SEATTLE - The 63rd annual Seattle Seafair Fleet Week concluded Aug. 6 when U.S. Navy ships USS New Orleans (LPD 18), USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) and USS Halsey (DDG 97) departed from the Port of Seattle.
A parade of ships and air show kicked-off Fleet Week Aug. 1 as local spectators observed U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and Canadian ships and aircraft maneuver across downtown Seattle's Elliott Bay.
"This is great because the public generally doesn't have too much of an idea of what it is our military service members do, so when we see the parade of ships and Sailors out in town in their uniform it gives us a little more of a perspective and also builds a bond between the community and the Navy," said Charles French, a Seattle local.
The people of Seattle also had the opportunity to see the ships up close. Throughout the week, U.S. and Canadian Navy ships offered public tours, hosting more than 50,000 visitors.
"They've all been really fascinated by the ship's capabilities," said Personnel Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Melissa McLellan, a USS New Orleans Sailor. "Some of the things most people have been curious and amazed by is our living quarters and the ship's fighting ability."
Ship tourists were able to handle some of the military gear and learned about Navy life at sea.
"I grew up in the Vietnam-era where the military didn't get quite as much support as they should have but this is such an eye-opener and the public needs to be more aware of the sacrifices that our military men and women make every day," said French.
Sailors and Marines experienced the local culture, participated in a community relations project at a children's hospital and received discounts at the Seattle Mariners' annual 'Navy Night' baseball game.
"It's been awesome. It's my first time in Seattle and it's a beautiful place," said Cryptologic Technician Technical 2nd Class (SW) Matthew Baun, USS New Orleans. "All the people are nice and friendly especially to us service members."
McLellan said she was surprised by a token of appreciation a local Seattle woman gave to her and other Sailors.
"The other day I was walking around in my whites with a group of friends and we stopped at Starbucks for coffee and without asking, a lady paid for all of our drinks," said McLellan.
Seattle residents commented on the importance of Fleet Week and the overall demeanor and professionalism of the Sailors they'd encountered.
"It's nice to get a glimpse into what the Navy does. The Sailors I have met have represented themselves well out in town and they've made us all proud," said Anthony Lalone, of Seattle.
Fleet Week activities allow U.S. and Canadian Sailors and Coast Guard personnel to experience the local community and to promote awareness of the maritime forces.