Sun Sentinel Broward Edition
Fleet Week comes to town, so give them a bow
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.
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