Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Yesterday's Memorial Day ceremonies throughout NYC reminded me of why I love this great city -- because I believe there's no place on Earth quite like New York where people are so outwardly grateful and appreciative of their men and women in uniform. New York Fleet Week serves as a great testament to that belief. In fact, it's a rare day when I wear my summer whites out and about the City that I'm not stopped by several people on the streets saluting me and asking me what I do in the service. Many times they look shocked to hear that I'm stationed right here in Midtown Manhattan. "I do public relations for the Navy," I say. They usually respond with a confused look on their face and then mumble something about not knowing there were ships stationed in New York City.

I smile as we part ways because I know how lucky I am to be assigned here. In fact it's down right humbling to serve as the City's face of the Navy, representing some of the hardest working people in the military. I'm talking about our deck plate enlisted Sailors who are manning 12-hour port and starboard watches in ships' CIC and still find time to get their warfare quals so that they can advance in their rate. Or the brand spanking-new ensign, otherwise known as the "George," who gets stuck with the mid-watch in three section rotation. Or the countless other watches, duties and responsibilities our Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen take on everyday -- many of them (Sailors) deployed as boots on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan that people don't even know about much less consider on a semi-regular basis.

Memorial Day is a great reminder of the daily sacrifice these service members make because it is a time when we honor and remember those who have served and gone before us. Perhaps it's fitting that Memorial Day falls toward the end of our week of fun, celebration and festivities. Tomorrow the ships leave for their home port stations in Norfolk and Mayport.

Last call for New York Fleet Week.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

If you've been following my Twitter updates you know that I've had the privilege to attend Fleet Week events and talk to the media with 24 Sailors from the pre-commissioning unit USS New York (LPD 21), including the prospective commanding officer, Commander Curt Jones. Commander Jones is a native of New York, having grown up in Binghampton, and is in my opinion a perfect fit for the commissioning CO of the latest warship to be named after this great city and state.

Yesterday I had the honor of accompanying Commander Jones to the 9/11 Tribute Center located near ground zero. Though I've been tweeting from the myriad locations we have traveled to about the City over the past couple of days, as we entered the center my brain was completely stilled with imagery and audio recalling that fateful day on September 11, 2001; tweeting was the furthest thing from my mind.

The mission of the Tribute WTC Visitor Center is to offer visitors to the World Trade Center site a place where they can connect with people from the September 11th community. Through walking tours, exhibits and programs, the Tribute WTC Visitor Center offers "Person to Person History," linking visitors who want to understand and appreciate these historic events with those who experienced them.

This week Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen participating in New York Fleet Week are taking tours of the 9/11 Tribute Center. Of those, the Sailors from USS New York pre-commissioning crew took their own personalized tours of the center. With seven and a half tons of steel recovered from the World Trade Center site in the bow of the ship, for these Sailors the 9/11 Tribute Center visit carried with it an even deeper meaning of duty and sacrifice.

After having spent the past couple of days with them I can tell you that it is humbling to be in the presence of the USS New York commissioning crew. They know that theirs is a special warship, and they are proud to be a part of this exceptional time in the life of the ship. Somehow, by virtue of being assigned to New York City at the time of the commissioning, I, too, am fortunate enough to be a part of this extraordinary experience. On November 7, 2009, from the very pier where USS Iwo Jima now sits, USS New York will be commissioned. I can't help but allow the New York Sailors' enthusiasm to rub off on me. I'm so proud to serve the Navy in New York and I look forward to the fall, when the USS New York Sailors bring their ship to life.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The kick-off to New York Fleet Week '09 is finally here! Whether watching the Navy Band Northeast play on the Today Show; seeing the Commander, Second Fleet, Vice Admiral Melvin Williams throw out the Yankee's first pitch; or celebrating with Joan Jett at the Hard Rock Cafe crew's party, today the fleet is on the street. It's a great day to celebrate the sea services and its rich heritage rooted here in New York.

So let's 'splice the main brace' and celebrate!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Today, Navy ethics training. Tomorrow, the world. Well, at least the City and all its offerings for what promises to be another successful New York Fleet Week. Over one hundred Fleet Week support team members have descended upon NYC, including active duty, government civilians and reserves. The one training topic that proves critical in ensuring continued Fleet Week success? A lesson in our Navy Ethos.

Now ethics training isn't exactly what I consider the most riveting topic I've had to learn, but I'd be remiss not to mention that it makes me very proud to be part of an organization that, I believe, not only practices but embodies the code of ethics that we are taught. Do I consider myself an ethically-obsessed military member, constantly thinking and rethinking my every action as if the weight of the world rested upon my own moral, mortal judgement (sorry, OJAG)? Hardly. But I think it's the common thread that binds every Sailor to what we hold near and dear to our hearts. And that's the privilege to serve our nation as a member of the United States Navy.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Today was an entire day's worth of New York Fleet Week '09 final planning for all those last-minute details that needed to be addressed. I suspect with all the fun that's to be had celebrating our sea services as our Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen take to the City on liberty call, many people are left completely unaware of all the dedicated people, parts and processes that go into an event on the scale of Fleet Week New York. Of course, if we did our jobs correctly, that's exactly the effect we'll achieve. Over six months' worth of coordination and meetings go into the planning; an enormous community and multi-service event, all the dizzying details are enough make any special events coordinator's head spin! With Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard participation, New York Fleet Week is a superb example of our maritime strategy's concept and coordination in action.

Let's hope this year's Fleet Week planning will provide an enjoyable, smooth sailing experience for our service members and New Yorkers alike!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The count-down is on! Only four days left until our Navy ships roll into the Hudson River for a week's worth of sea service celebration during New York City Fleet Week 2009 (note: when you click on the link, you must also click "continue to the site"), May 20-27. Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen will be the toast of the town as year after year the City graciously rolls out the red carpet to host our service members during this highly anticipated annual kick-off to the unofficial beginning of summer.

Follow my Twitter updates at @NYCNavygirl as I attend fleet week events with the commanding officer of USS New York (LPD 21), Commander Curt Jones. We'll visit the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space museum, Gracie Mansion, and much, much more! In addition, 28 Sailors from the USS New York's crew will be riding IWO JIMA up to partake in Fleet Week activities and talk to New Yorkers first-hand about the up-coming commissioning as an informal introduction of New York's very own service members. Give them a big welcome as they get to know the City during Fleet Week sponsored events as well as out on town on liberty.

Built with a hull containing seven and a half tons of steel recovered from the World Trade Center attacks, USS New York is a San Antonio class U.S. Navy warship that is currently under construction at the Northop Grumman shipyard in Avondale, Louisiana. After the ship's commissioning on November 7, 2009, to take place right here in New York City, USS New York's primary mission will be to transport and land Marines, their equipment and supplies to support amphibious assault, special operations, or expeditionary warfare missions throughout the globe.

Below is the press release just out today announcing our ships participating in New York Fleet Week '09.

Viva la vida marina!


Ships head to New York for Fleet Week
May 16, 2009

A flotilla of U.S. Navy ships and thousands of Sailors and Marines set sail Monday morning from Norfolk, Va., to participate in the 22nd Fleet Week New York, which will take place May 20 - 27.

The ships heading up the East Coast for this year’s Fleet Week commemoration are the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) with a special purpose Marine air/ground task force embarked, and the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), both homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.; patrol coastal ships USS Tempest (PC 2), USS Hurricane (PC 3) and USS Thunderbolt (PC 12), homeported at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va.; and the guided missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80), homeported in Mayport, Fla. Iwo Jima and Roosevelt will be moored in Manhattan; and Vella Gulf, Tempest, Hurricane and Thunderbolt will be moored at Staten Island.

The ships will parade into New York Harbor Wednesday morning, May 20.

Two U.S. Coast Guard vessels and five Canadian navy vessels will also join Wednesday’s Parade of Ships.

Hosted nearly every year since 1984, Fleet Week New York is the City’s celebration of the sea services. This event also provides an opportunity for the citizens of New York City and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as see, first-hand, the latest capabilities of today’s maritime services.

In addition to public visitations of participating ships, May 21 – 26, there will be a number of exhibits showing off the technology of our maritime services and the skilled expertise of our service members. More information is available on the official Fleet Week New York website at
https://www.cnic.navy.mil/cnrma, then click on the link for Fleet Week New York City.