History of Fleet Week in the United States

It’s that time of year- time for San Francisco Fleet Week! The Bay will be full of ships of all sizes, while the sky will be busy with the most talented performance pilots in the world. A whole week of airshows and U.S. Navy ship tours makes for a busy time for the crew of USA 76. We will be sailing on the Bay all weekend long. Look for us on the water as we join in the Fleet Week celebrations. We’ll start our observations of San Francisco Fleet Week off with a brief history of Fleet week and how it came to San Francisco.

What is Fleet Week?

Fleet Week is a U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard tradition that invites active military ships to dock in major US cities for one week. While docked, the ship’s crews enjoy city life, and civilians tour select ships. Military demonstrations and air shows from world-renowned performance pilots like the Blue Angels accompany Fleet Week events.

Fleet Week was born in 1935 in the years between WWI and WWII. With military presence growing worldwide, President Franklin D. Roosevelt conceived Fleet Week, to showcase the United States military fleet. The first event was in conjunction with the California Pacific International Exposition in San Diego. The event was a massive success with 114 warships, 400 military planes, and more than 3,000 commissioned officers and 55,000 enlisted men.

Since the inaugural Fleet Week, ten cities across America have adopted the tradition as a stand-alone event or addition to maritime festivals.

San Francisco Fleet Week (SFFW)

Fleet Week came to San Francisco in 1981 with the then-mayor, Dianne Feinstein. The Mission of the San Francisco Fleet Week is to honor the contributions of the men and women of the United Staes Armed Forces. It is a public event that aims to advance knowledge among civilian- and military-based Humanitarian Assistance personnel. The SFFW takes place on the Marina Green and the central portion of the San Francisco Bay. Festivities coincide with Italian Heritage Month and celebrate San Francisco’s maritime history that has influenced local culture.

Highlights of the SFFW include public tours of select active military ships and a fully choreographed air show featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. Visit the SFFW website for more details on additional events taking place during the week, such as free concerts, the Parade of Ships, and the Veterans Art Exhibit.

For more information about San Francisco Fleet Week, visit the event website or download the app.

For a schedule of open public tours aboard USA 76 for the 2019 Fleet Week, visit our booking page.