New Yorkers can still expect to spot groups of white-uniformed sailors criss-crossing the city for a few more days as the long-awaited return of Fleet Week winds down.
The annual US Navy, US Marine Corps and US Coast Guard celebration is back after a two-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
About 3,000 sailors and marines arrived at the parade of ships on May 25 and will leave on Tuesday.
“Fleet week is kind of an opportunity for us to engage with the public. To have a chance to show what we’re doing, because I feel like the public, they can only see what’s on YouTube or something or what they see on the news,” he said. said Jack Grabe, 21, a Marine Corps Lance Corporal. .
Military ships, including the USS Bataan, known as the Big 5, will be open for public tours. The ship has been in service since the late 1990s and was the first ship to arrive during 9/11.
“To see everyone become so interested in seeing the ship, it’s just a very humbling experience,” said Lieutenant Commander Jacqueline Zimny, meteorologist and oceanographer aboard USS Bataan.
On Sunday, the sailors said they were flattered by the hospitality of New Yorkers – meals paid for by strangers, free drinks and a flurry of photos and thanks.
“There was a gentleman who was stopped at a green light asking us to take our picture,” said Dustin Sheets, 32, who served nearly 12 years in the Navy.
For some first-time visitors, the city was sometimes too stimulating.
“Wherever you go, there are always at least 35 people there,” said sailor Baylor Willis, 22, from Kentucky.
On Sunday, locals hoped to visit an active military ship along the docks, but the USS Bataan was closed for public tours.
“These piers here, the ’80s piers, that run through the Chelsea piers have so much history to them,” said Harlem resident Hannah Simpson, 37. “I think it’s really cool to connect with that when I see the service members and it reminds us that there are people out there doing hard things for our country, even when we don’t see it. not necessarily here at home.”
Other sailors took the opportunity to spend time with their friends and loved ones.
“We often talk about the fact that freedom is not free. It’s not free when you have a child who served in the military,” said Joni Robinson, 58. She had come from South Carolina to see her 31-year-old son, Caleb Robinson.