Bay Ridge

Fort Hamilton salutes Navy for Fleet Week

May 24, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The USS Kearsarge sails under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge after passing the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hamilton. Eagle photos by Paula Katinas

Army base offers 15-gun salute to Parade of Ships

Fleet Week is finally here! And even though the seven-day event is designed to highlight the accomplishments of the country’s seafaring military service members, the U.S. Army is also standing at attention for the festivities.

On Wednesday morning, it was the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hamilton in Bay Ridge that led the way as Brooklyn residents welcomed U.S. Navy ships arriving at New York Harbor for the start of Fleet Week.

Fleet Week began on Wednesday and will last until May 30. The week includes dozens of family-oriented activities, including free tours of battle ships.

It all got started with the magnificent Parade of Ships.

Fourteen vessels, including warships, patrol boats and Coast Guard cutters, sailed past Fort Hamilton and then traveled underneath the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on their way up the harbor to dock at Manhattan piers for the week-long stay.

Fort Hamilton, the only active military base in New York City, threw open its gates to welcome visitors for the start of Fleet Week and invited everyone to head up to the bluff to catch the best view of the Parade of Ships passing by.

“I would like to welcome everyone as we pay salute to the ships and to the Navy fleet,” Col. Peter Sicoli, the fort’s commander, told the audience. “It’s going to be a great day. Let’s enjoy the festivities.”

As hundreds of people stood on Engeldrum Bluff to watch and wave at the sailors, soldiers from the fort fired a 15-gun salute in honor of the USS Kearsarge, the lead ship. As a thank you, sailors on the USS Kearsarge fired a seven-gun salute to the fort.

The USS Kearsarge, an amphibious warship, is the fifth in a long line of ships that were named after the original USS Kearsarge, a sloop-of-war vessel that performed heroically during the Civil War. The original ship got its name from Mount Kearsarge, located in New Hampshire. Its Homeport is located in Norfolk, Virginia.

The USS Kearsarge was launched in 1992, Gen.Colin Powell, who was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, attended the ceremony. The ship was commissioned in 1993.

In addition to the USS Kearsarge, the parade of 14 ships will included: the USS Lassen, USS San Jacinto, USS Monterey, USS Zephyr, USCGC Hamilton, USCGC Katherine Walker, USNS Yuma, the RV Neil Armstrong, the HMCS Glace Bay of the Royal Canadian Navy and four USNA yard patrol boats.

The USS San Jacinto attracted a great deal of attention and admiration from the crowd at Fort Hamilton.

The USS San Jacinto, a Ticonderoga-class cruiser, is named for the Battle of San Jacinto, which took place during the Texas Revolution.

The ship was commissioned in 1988 by then-Vice President George H.W. Bush. It fired two Tomahawk missiles to mark the start of Operation Desert Storm in 1991. The ship fired a total of 16 missiles during the 43-day war.

The theme of Fleet Week 2017 is “Celebrating the Sea Services and commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Seabees.” Seabees, formally known as the Naval Construction Forces, have demonstrated their skills not only as builders, but as fighters.

At Fort Hamilton, hundreds of school children got to enjoy the day. A group of kids from the fort’s day care center led the Pledge of Allegiance.

After the Parade of Ships took place, the U.S. Coast Guard Silent Drill Team performed and a magician did magic tricks for the children.

The morning was filled with music, as the Xaverian High School Band played several songs for the audience.

For more information on Fleet Week events, visit fleetweeknewyork.com.

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