SEATTLE - Fleet Week concluded at the 62nd annual Seattle Seafair Aug. 8 when U.S. Navy ships USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), USS Sampson (DDG 102) and USS Chafee (DDG 90) departed from the Port of Seattle.
A parade of ships and air show kicked off Fleet Week Aug. 3 as local spectators observed U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and Canadian ships and aircraft circling around downtown Seattle's Elliott Bay.
"We always look forward to the parade of ships and the air show," said Bonnie Willis, of Tucson, Ariz., visiting family in Seattle. "Every time I see the Blue Angels air show, I get goose bumps."
The people of Seattle had the opportunity to see the ships up close. Throughout the week, U.S. and Canadian Navy ships offered public tours, hosting more than 20,000 visitors.
"We talked to some of the Sailors on the ship and got some insight on what it is that they do and one of the first things I recognized was how respectful they are," Willis said. "They're all very knowledgeable about their jobs and were all just very nice to talk to."
Ship tourists were able to handle some of the military gear and learned about Navy life at sea.
"It's pretty cool to know that people actually spend part of their lives on these ships and sacrifice to protect our freedom," said Sarah Meyer, a Seattle resident.
Sailors and Marines experienced the local culture, participated in a community relations project at a children's hospital and received discounts at the Seafair annual golf tournament and Seattle Mariners baseball game.
"It's been amazing," said Midshipman 2nd Class Katherine Stone, attached to Bonhomme Richard. "It's really inspiring to see people that want to do things for others, especially for the military because we're out there sacrificing and we don't ask for a lot, so when people come out and support us like this it's really nice. The people here are very welcoming."
The Seattle Mariners Navy appreciation night was extra special for Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class (SW) Jared Thompson, a Bonhomme Richard Sailor who received a team-autographed baseball.
"My son is a huge Mariners fan because he was born here, but he was too little to remember ever coming to a game. So, since I was able to come, I got a baseball signed for him, and it's really awesome," said Thompson.
Seattle residents commented on the importance of Fleet Week and the overall demeanor and professionalism of the Sailors they'd encountered.
"I have a great admiration for the men and women serving in our military," said Toni Freeman, of Seattle. "Seeing so many Sailors walking around in their clean and pressed white uniforms, all of them so respectful and knowledgeable, gives me great confidence in today's Navy."
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.
"I think events such as Fleet Week are very important so that locals of the communities across America are able to get a better idea of what it is that the Navy does for our country," said Willis.
"The Navy is a fantastic group of men and women and I appreciate and thank them," Willis added.