Sun Sentinel Broward Edition

Fleet Week comes to town, so give them a bow

- By Su­san­nah Bryan Staff writer

FORT LAUD­ERDALE — When sailor Aaron Am­mons steps off the USS Wasp on Mon­day morn­ing, he’ll be on the look­out for one very spe­cial lady: Mom.

She’ll be wait­ing for him at Port Ev­er­glades, along with dozens of well-wish­ers wel­com­ing nearly 2,000 ship­mates for the start of Fleet Week.

Am­mons, a 13-year Navy vet­eran, has been dreaming of mom’s home cooking.

“Ahh, I can’t wait,” the 32-year-old West Palm Beach na­tive said from aboard the ship as it made its way from New Or­leans to Fort Laud­erdale. “She makes some good home­made lasagna, I can tell you that.”

For nearly a quar­ter of a cen­tury, war­ships have been steam­ing into Port Ev­er­glades to give hun­dreds of sailors and Marines a chance to bar-hop and shop, let loose and un­wind.

Fleet Week 2015 starts Mon­day, with four Navy ves­sels, in­clud­ing the de­stroyer USS Cole, ar­riv­ing for their yearly so­journ.

The re­main­ing ships in­clude the Wasp, an am­phibi­ous as­sault ship from Nor­folk, Va.; the Nor­folk-based guided mis­sile de­stroyer USS James E. Wil­liams; a Navy sub­ma­rine from Gro­ton, Conn.; and the Miami-based U.S. Coast Guard cut­ter Richard Etheridge.

The U.S. Navy cel­e­brates Fleet Week

ev­ery year in Port Ev­er­glades, New York and San Fran­cisco. The event gives civil­ians a chance to honor and ren­dezvous with sailors, Marines and Coast Guards­men.

“Out­reach like this is so im­por­tant,” Lt. Mike Hat­field, a spokesman for the Navy, said while aboard the Wasp. “It con­tin­ues that re­la­tion­ship be­tween the cit­i­zens and the sailors and Marines. We love to pull into port and in­vite as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble to meet the sailors and Marines. Every­body on board is re­ally ex­cited.”

As part of Fleet Week, up to 3,000 peo­ple a day, who had reg­is­tered early and un­der­gone se­cu­rity checks, can take guided tours of the ves­sels. Reg­is­tra­tion for the tours has closed.

The public can meet the sailors at var­i­ous out­ings through­out the week, in­clud­ing an “All Hands on Deck Wel­com­ing Party” at 6 p.m. Mon­day at the Semi­nole Hard Rock Ho­tel & Casino in Hol­ly­wood; a Fleet Week Golf Clas­sic at the Fort Laud­erdale Coun­try Club at 7:30 a.m. Tues­day; a Navy Band Southeast Con­cert from 7-9 p.m. Wed­nes­day at the Art­sPark in Hol­ly­wood; a ping-pong tour­na­ment at 1:30 p.m. Satur­day at 2xtreme Pong in Da­nia Beach; and a Gal­ley Wars Culi­nary Com­pe­ti­tion at 6 p.m. Satur­day at Hugh’s Culi­nary in Oak­land Park.

Dur­ing their free time, sailors will help build Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity homes, and will visit el­derly vets, school­child­ren and hos­pi­tal pa­tients. They’ll also get the chance to com­pete in fish­ing and ten­nis tour­na­ments and an all-day dam­age-con­trol com­pe­ti­tion that in­volves ex­tin­guish­ing aboard a train­ing ship.

Wasp crew­mate Robin White, 37, and his wife in­tend to play tourist dur­ing his shore time, even though both grew up in Fort Laud­erdale and have fond mem­o­ries of the city.

White’s wife is fly­ing in Nor­folk for the lit­tle fam­ily tion.

White joined the Navy in 2000 and waited 15 years for the chance

fire from vaca- to en­joy derdale.

He and his wife are look­ing for­ward to see­ing the old neigh­bor­hood.

“There’s no place like home,” he said.

Fleet Week ends on Mother’s Day, May 10, when the ships head back to sea.

Fleet Week

in sbryan@tribpub.com or 954-356-4554.

Fort

Lau-

 ?? JOE CAVARETTA/STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER ?? The USS New Hamp­shire, based in Gro­ton, Conn., will ar­rive Mon­day at Port Ev­er­glades.
JOE CAVARETTA/STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER The USS New Hamp­shire, based in Gro­ton, Conn., will ar­rive Mon­day at Port Ev­er­glades.
 ?? PHO­TOS BY JOE CAVARETTA/STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER ?? Marines and sailors line the deck of the USS New York as it en­ters Port Ev­er­glades on April 28, 2014. Be­low, sea­man Dustin Free­man, of Grand Rapids, Mich., stands watch on the bridge of the USS New York as it trav­els to South Florida.
PHO­TOS BY JOE CAVARETTA/STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER Marines and sailors line the deck of the USS New York as it en­ters Port Ev­er­glades on April 28, 2014. Be­low, sea­man Dustin Free­man, of Grand Rapids, Mich., stands watch on the bridge of the USS New York as it trav­els to South Florida.

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