NEW YORK – Some 2,300 US sailors have dropped anchor in New York for the traditional “Fleet Week,” a tribute by the Big Apple to US maritime military forces who, for the past 31 years, have been visiting the city for this special annual event.
The city launched the patriotic event on Wednesday with a “parade” of 13 vessels that will remain docked – with most of them being open to the public – on the Hudson River on the west side of Manhattan, until next Tuesday after on Monday, Memorial Day, honoring those who have fallen in US military conflicts.
Not all the military equipment on display for the event is seagoing. In the middle of Times Square, a military all-terrain vehicle has been parked right beside the iconic LED light board depicting the US flag at Kilometer Zero, and there is also a Navy recruitment office there.
The vehicle is an LMADIS and is used by the Marines, one of their number – Tyler Bickel, age 23 – told EFE as he explained the vehicle’s features, in particular a powerful system to detect and incapacitate drones with electronic attacks.
Bickel comes from a small Colorado town and said he was very happy with the welcome New York had given him and his military colleagues for Fleet Week, and he and his fellow Marine, Tobias Viel, confirmed that the LMADIS works something “like an Xbox.”
“Even a child can operate it,” said the 21-year-old Viel, born in Tennessee, adding that the vehicle has been deployed only “in the Mediterranean.”
The soldiers in camouflage, wearing combat boots and caps say that they’ve been in the military for three years and arrived in the city on board the USS New York, an amphibious transport vessel that is the star of Fleet Week this year, since its prow is made using 7.5 tons of steel recovered from the ruins of the World Trade Center.
Near the two Marines is an information tent, where other soldiers answer questions from the public, display an assortment of military gear and even pose to have their photos taken with people.
The troops are on hand here amid a festive atmosphere, with images circulating on the social networks under the hashtag “FleetWeekNYC.”
But one of the best things about the sailors’ visit to the Big Apple is that the public can go on board ships like the USS New York, which is anchored at Manhattan’s Pier 88, or the Navy patrol boats at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, the epicenter of the celebration, where people are standing in long lines to have the chance to view them up close.