The 30th Fleet Week New York in 2018

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The 30th “Fleet Week New York 2018” was celebrated from May 23rd through May 29th, 2018, all around New York City and there was actually an aviation component included with the participation of the “USS Arlington” (LPD-24), a 684-foot San Antonio-class Amphibious Transport Dock ship that came up from Naval Station Norfolk to participate in the Big Week in New York. The big ship was commissioned in February 2013, has been in active service with the Fleet since 2015 and is especially noted and named for Arlington, Virginia, a city near the Pentagon, and her superstructure actually incorporates some of the destroyed steel from the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon building.

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Fleet Week New York plays homage to the Sailors and Marines of the four sea-borne military services that protect our Nation – US Marines, US Navy, US Coast Guard and the US Merchant Marines – with ships berthed in all five New York City Boroughs – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island. Many organizations and city agencies also plan events to welcome all of the almost 3,000 Sailors and Marines visiting New York for this Memorial Day Weekend. Years ago Fleet Week was really a Big Deal in New York with as many as 30 large warships participating from many international countries besides the US. Almost every year a full deck Aircraft Carrier would come in with many aircraft and helos on the flight deck and sometimes even joined by a LHA or LHD helicopter carrier. For many years during the Wednesday morning arrival “Parade of Ships” up the Hudson River you could also expect a huge accompanying military flyover above the transiting line of ships with as many as 40 military aircraft from all three maritime services passing in review, and Yes, even with planes from the US Air Force in trail! In those days many of the ships would be double and triple spaced against each other to the West Side Passenger Piers from 44th Street up to 54th Street along NewYork’s West Side waterfront. But continuing military budget restraints prevented higher levels of participation by the Military. This year there was only one international ship: good ‘ol Canada contributed a Royal Canadian Navy 181-foot Kingston-class coastal defense minesweeper vessel and she kept company with the much bigger USS Arlington right next to her at Pier 90 at 50th Street.

Somehow the organizers managed to get 14 military ships to participate this year. Here’s a listing of the Fleet Week New York 2018 ship lineup and where they were docked:

A) Manhattan – Pier 90:
* San Antonio – class amphibious transport dock USS Arlington (LPD-24) from Norfolk, Virginia. Arlington also embarked several hundred Marines up from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
* Kingston – class coastal defense mine sweeper vessel HMCS Moncton (MM-708) from Canadian Forces Base Halifax.

B) Manhattan Pier 86 at the Intrepid Air, Sea Nd Space Museum:
* Four US Naval Academy Yard Patrol Boats (YP-XX) from Annapolis , Maryland.
* Sentinel – class USCG patrol cutter USCGC Richard Snyder (WPC-1127) from Atlantic Beach, North Carolina.

C) Brooklyn Cruise Terminal:
* Arleigh Burke – class guided missile destroyer USS Mitscher ( DDG-57) from Norfolk, Virginia.

D) Homeport Pier – Staten Island:
* Freedom – class littoral combat ship USS Little Rock (LCS-9) from Mayport, Florida.
* Bay – class USCG medium endurance cutter USCGC Diligence (WMEC-616) from Wilmington, North Carolina.
* Pathfinder – class oceanographic survey ship USNS Maury (T-AGS-66) from the Military Sealift Command out of Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

E) Kings Point Long Island (Queens) – US Merchant Marine Academy:
* Cyclone – class patrol coastal ship USS Zephyr (PC-8) from Mayport, Florida.

F) Bronx – State University of New York Maritime College:
* Spearhead – class expeditionary fast transport USNS City of Bismarck (T-EPF-9) of the Military Sealift Command out of Naval Station Key West, Florida. This is a new and unusual shallow draft flat decked transport ship with a light weight aluminum catamaran double-hull with a helo flight deck and a RO/RO capability.

The USS Arlington (LPD-24) is a 684-foot San Antonio – class amphibious transport dock ship designed for amphibious beach landings in a hostile combat environment by means of special landing craft or helicopter assault. The ship has a floodable well deck for landing craft, a hanger deck for storing tanks and assault vehicles and a stern flight deck in the aft half section of the superstructure. The landing craft include: a) Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV-P7-A1) with props and tracks; b) Light Armored Vehicle (LAV-25) with props and eight wheels and c) Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) that operates almost like an airplane “flying” slightly above the water line at high speed by means of two ten-foot stern deck ducted air propellers for lift and forward motion over water and even above the beach sand surface. The LCAC operates as an airplane with the “Craftmaster” (Pilot) flying it from the “Cockpit” or Command Module with a headset and a pilot helmet like that of an F-16 pilot. The ride feels like a plane in high turbulence. The Craftmaster steers it with a yoke and operates the rudder controls

with his feet as in a plane. The LCAC is similar to a helicopter in that it has six dimensions of motion. Operating the LCAC demands unique perceptual and psychological skills and also demands a high level of pilot-like training and continued experience levels – a quality difficult to satisfy in the current period of high attrition rates for LCAC Command “Pilots”.

The LPD Flight Deck on the stern half of the superstructure can operate with a wide assortment of helicopter types including: MV-22 Osprey; CH-53E Super Stallion; UH-1Y Venom (Huey); AH-1Z Viper; AH-1W Cobra; and versions of the MH-60S Seahawk. The flight deck was originally designed for four CH-46 SeaKnight Helos and two MV-22 Ospreys. For Fleet Week the Arlington’s flight deck had two helos from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167 (HMLA-167) with MAG-29, 2nd MAW out of MCAS New River, North Carolina, chained down at the far stern of the flight deck. The two helos were an AH-1W “Whiskey” SuperCobra and a UH-1Y “Yankee” Venom (Huey). The Squadron Motto is “Have Gun – Will Travel”. (Does anyone still remember the “Paladin” Western TV show from the 1960’s? Great TV series!). Their combat mission is Close Air Support, Air Interdiction and Assault Support. Their Fleet Week Mission, for the pilots on deck near their helos, was to explain the aircraft, their mission and sell a few patches and get some kids psyched up on joining Marine Aviation.

Thursday was the first day of the USS Arlington’s “Open House” and we had a bit of an Air Show right over the ship. At 0900 the Navy “Blue Angels” announced their arrival into New York City by flying low and slow up the Hudson River and right over the LPD. At 1200 we had a NY Police Air Support Unit Bell 429 come in and make five low passes over the ship. Finally at 1300 we had a flight of two F-16C’s come “down” the Hudson from up north. By heading south, I suspect the Vipers were from the 134th FS / 158th FW of the Vermont ANG out of Burlington, VT, taking a little ride on a sunny day down the Hudson River to New York to welcome the ships for Fleet Week in New York Harbor. This mini-Airshow and the big Jones Beach Air Show on Saturday and Sunday made for quite a spectacular Memorial Day Weekend in New York City !!!

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