SAN FRANCISCO – Fleet Week in San Francisco is officially launched. Navy ships arrive in the bay to prepare for visitors.
The guided missile destroyer Shoup was the first to enter the bay on Sunday. Fleet Week this year is a big deal because it’s the only nationwide Fleet Week in 2021.
The Shoup was the first of four Navy ships to make it to the shores of San Francisco to kick off this year’s in-person festivities. The event had to go virtual last year due to COVID.
US Navy Lt. Joe Pfaff said the Navy must protect the public and keep ships ready for service.
âOnce we have formed what we call a COVID bubble, we have maintained this readiness and maintained this readiness so that we can actually conduct our operations,â said US Navy Lt. Joe Pfaff. “So virtual was really the only way we could go last year.”
This year, in-person tours may resume, visitors will be required to wear masks on board. Fleet Week in San Francisco is the only in-person Fleet Week nationwide this year, and Sailors and Marines say they are happy to be here in the city by the bay.
âBeing the only Fleet Week for the last couple of years, umâ¦ a lot of excitement,â Lt. Pfaff said. “We’re happy to be here again. Happy to introduce our Navy to you, and that’s just going to make Fleet Week in 2021 even more special.”
Ships should be a major draw. In recent years, Fleet Week has drawn over a million visitors to the city.
Aquarium of the Bay CEO George Jacob said it was good news for attractions along the San Francisco waterfront.
âRegional tourism, regional traffic has actually increased and our numbers are better than 2019 around the same time, which is really surprising and encouraging,â said Jacob. “Events like Fleet Week definitely bring more energy and we would like to harness that energy and do it safely.”
In fact, the Aquarium is already selling tickets for a Fleet Week Watch Party, including access to their balcony. “I hope we have good weather like we did last weekend and you see the Blue Angels shooting right next to me as I understand it when they fly upside down you can see them in the cockpit, âsaid Philip. Keelboat at Aquarium de la Baie.
Visitors to San Francisco say they are already watching some of the preparations. âIt was awesome,â said Tabitha Heins. “There are so many people here too. It’s good to see.”
Visitors say traffic was already a challenge on a Monday without an air show. The best call, experts say, is to take public transport.
âYeah, it’s not that bad with BART,â said Dave Fordahl. “The traffic is pretty hectic here, but BART makes it manageable.”
Ship tours start Wednesday, air shows start Friday through Sunday.
For more information: https://fleetweeksf.org/