New York celebrates Parade of Ships
Traditional Fleet Week activities begin
The ships cut through the waters of a foggy New York on Wednesday.
Fleet Week provides Americans the opportunity to welcome sailors and Marines and to observe firsthand the hard work they do.
-- Rear Adm. Joseph A. Walsh
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Nine U.S. Navy ships will lead the traditional Parade of Ships up the Hudson River Wednesday to kick off Fleet Week, New York's annual celebration of sailors, Marines and ships at sea.
Eighteen ships from five nations, including tall sailing ships from the Mexican and Indian navies, will be sent upriver by a 21-gun salute from Fort Hamilton, in the shadow of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
More than 3,500 sailors and Marines will flood the streets of the city for athletic competitions, receptions, concerts and free public tours of the ships. Sailors will also participate in 11 different Memorial Day parades and serve as honored guests at several Major League baseball games.
The nine U.S. Navy ships include three guided missile cruisers, three frigates, an amphibious transport ship, two dock landing ships and a research vessel. The dock-landing ship, the USS Portland, recently returned from a three-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The guided missile cruiser USS Normandy, a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, has been based in New York for four years and will be open for public tours.
Several of the country's foremost naval officers will visit New York during Fleet Week, including Rear Adm. Joseph A. Walsh, commander of the Navy's northeast region.
Security was tight for the Parade.
"New York and the Navy have a special relationship, and it has only grown stronger with the war on terrorism," said Walsh, who also serves as a shoreside coordinating commander for Fleet Week. "Fleet Week provides Americans the opportunity to welcome sailors and Marines and to observe firsthand the hard work they do."
Despite stricter security measures at the event this year, New York Gov. George Pataki urged New Yorkers to participate in Fleet Week activities.
"People should thank those who come into the city for Fleet Week. People should plan to have respectful celebrations on this Memorial Day weekend, but be vigilant. Be alert."
The ships will depart New York on May 28.