Fleet Week San Diego brings a month of events to the Bay and beyond
By Kai Oliver-Kurtin
The local community can meet members of the U.S. military and experience them in action during Fleet Week San Diego, with various events taking place between Sept. 3 and Oct. 1. As the site of the inaugural Fleet Week event, San Diego held the first program in the nation dedicated to honoring and celebrating servicemembers with entertaining public events.
Returning as part of Fleet Week San Diego for the first time in eight years, the Sea & Air Parade will take over the San Diego Bay on Sept. 10.
“Although San Diego held the very first Fleet Week in 1935, it has not run continuously,” said Dennis DuBard, president of Fleet Week San Diego. “That said, we do have the Sea & Air Parade returning with great fanfare after it was cut from Fleet Week in 2008 due to sequestration.”
Typically more than 100,000 people line the San Diego waterfront to view the Sea & Air Parade, which will showcase amphibious ships, destroyers, submarines and cutters, as well as ships from the Royal Canadian Navy.
The parade will begin at Shelter Island at noon and transit the San Diego Bay until 2 p.m. to allow spectators to view the large fleet of ships. View locations include South Bay, the Embarcadero, Harbor Island, Coronado and Shelter Island. Those wishing for a front row seat on the deck of the USS Midway Museum can purchase VIP tickets for $150.
There will also be demonstrations of amphibious landing craft; Navy SEAL capabilities; the Coast Guard’s Search and Rescue team; and flyovers of Navy aircraft, including the Marine Corps’ stealth F-35 fighter jet.
On Sept. 10 and 11, the Broadway and B Street piers will host a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with live music, food, static displays and a kids’ zone.
Public ship tours will be available Sept. 10–14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily on B Street Pier.
“The public will have the opportunity to tour Navy ships USS San Diego (LPD 22) and USS Kidd (DDG 100),” DuBard said. “From the Coast Guard, the USCGC Sherman (WHEC 720) will be open for touring, as well as the Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Winnipeg (FFH 338). Expect each ship tour to last about 25 to 30 minutes.”
New this year, the Launch Party at the Pier is open to the public and free to attend, kicking off Fleet Week festivities Sept. 9 on the B Street Pier from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Expect live music, entertainment, food trucks and a beer garden.
Fleet Week is an opportunity for servicemembers to show their work environment to family and friends, with most events being family-friendly and free for active duty military members to attend.
“San Diego has the highest concentration of military in the world, with over 100,000 stationed here year-round,” DuBard said. “These men and women serve tirelessly day after day — not only in their jobs — but also in our community as volunteers and coaches, in classrooms, for community cleanups, and so much more. They are our neighbors, parents, children and friends.”
Another popular Fleet Week San Diego event is the Coronado Speed Festival on Sept. 17, which draws more than 25,000 people to Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI). A live auto race event originally sponsored by the Holiday Bowl, the festival eventually transitioned to be part of Fleet Week festivities.
During the festival, more than 250 historic racecars compete on a specially constructed track. This year’s festival grand marshal is actor, musician and philanthropist Gary Sinise. His band, the Lt. Dan Band, will perform in concert at noon, which is free with event admission.
“Vintage cars from around the country race at NASNI on a track that is created in days — a spectator-friendly 1.7-mile course,” DuBard said. “It’s constructed on a busy runway and taxiway at an active military base.”
The event also features 1,500 classic cars on display, a Meals Ready-to-Eat (MRE) cooking contest, kids’ zone, and a military pit crew challenge where teams of 10 complete in a stock car-style pit stop competition.
The Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Air Show Sept. 23-25 is also open to the public, featuring military aircraft flyovers, demonstrations and static displays.
For more information and a full lineup of events, visit fleetweeksandiego.org.
—Kai Oliver-Kurtin is a local freelance writer. She enjoys covering events, restaurant news, culture and entertainment. Contact her at email@example.com.