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Navy warship parade is back on in San Diego

Daimhin Murphy, carrying his son Gavin, walks past the Cape St. George, one of three ships open for public tours during the 2015 Fleet Week San Diego.
(Howard Lipin)

The Navy is putting the “fleet” back in San Diego Fleet Week.

The Sea ‘n’ Air Parade will return to San Diego Bay this September, restoring one of San Diego Fleet Week’s signature events.

About half a dozen U.S. Navy warships will parade around the bay Sept. 10, in addition to Navy and Marine Corps aircraft demonstrations. The U.S. Coast Guard and the navies of Canada and Mexico have been invited to participate.

U.S. ships will also be available for public tours at downtown San Diego piers, officials said.

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“We are delighted it’s back,” said Larry Blumberg, a retired Navy captain who is chairman of the parade committee.

The annual parade was canceled in 2001 because of security concerns after the Sept. 11 attacks. It returned from 2002 to 2008, but the event was again nixed in 2009 because of the demand for Navy warships around the world and the start of tighter defense budgets, officials said.

Blumberg, like others, credited Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, the commander of the San Diego-based U.S. 3rd Fleet, with green-lighting the ship parade’s return this year.

“She didn’t understand why San Diego isn’t like all the rest of the fleet weeks,” Blumberg said.

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In short, for several years, San Diego ships have traveled to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle for those cities’ fleet week events. Sailors in dress uniforms hit the town and raise awareness of the sea service.

But the Navy hasn’t spared any San Diego hulls to assume a dramatic, starring role in their city’s own annual celebration of the Navy and Marine Corps. Ships were only made available for pier-based public tours.

Meanwhile, the Miramar Air Show became the de facto marquis event of San Diego Fleet Week, drawing the biggest crowds of any air show in the nation.

“All these other places [Navy ships] went to, and here — where they are all home-ported — we didn’t have it,” said Brian Sack, executive director of the nonprofit Fleet Week San Diego Foundation.

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“We couldn’t be more excited to bring back this signature event,” Sack said.

jeanette.steele@sduniontribune.com

Steele writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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