Conflict & Justice

Fleet Week: A history


The tall ship from Ecuador Guayas passes Manhattan on May 23, 2012 in New York. The tall ship is participating in Fleet Week events in New York.



Fleet Week brings a bit of history to the shores of New York City, with at least 20 tall ships from around the world sporting traditional sails and making their way through the waterways around the city for civilian spectators to observe.

This year's Fleet Week events mark the bicentennial of the War of 1812, according to the Associated Press, but the origins of Fleet Week itself lie in the year 1935.

The first Fleet Week was held in San Diego, as part of the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935, according to The Travel Channel. It was a time between wars when President Franklin D. Roosevelt expanded the US Navy in response to the geopolitical situation, with both Japan and Germany building up their militaries.

More on GlobalPost: Fleet Week New York celebrates 25 years of sailors in the streets

At the time, 114 warships and 400 military planes came in to port in San Diego, and most of the fleet, which included 48 battleships, cruisers and carriers, manned by more than 3,000 commissioned officers and 55,000 men, visited the fair. The city's residents were also allowed to visit the ships.

Fleet Week only became an annual event in New York City in 1984, and included visits from Navy and Coast Guard ships as well as thousands of sailors and marines on leave, according to Agence France Presse.

This year's Fleet Week parade of tall ships included the "Eagle" built in Hamburg in 1936 and taken as a war prize by the US in 1946, according to AFP.

All jokes about drunk sailors aside, events like Fleet Week were meant to educate Americans about the Navy and reveal the inner workings of the Navy, Marine Corps and the Coast Guard, according to The Travel Channel.