Greeted by fireboat water sprays and the deafening booms of cannon shots from the Battleship Iowa, this year’s visiting fleet of active-duty ships began gliding into the Port of Los Angeles Tuesday, Aug. 27.
The fourth annual Los Angeles Fleet Week will formally kick off on Friday, following a Thursday night welcoming party in downtown San Pedro, and will run throughout the long Labor Day weekend.
A small group of spectators and volunteers watched the informal parade of ships from the deck of the Battleship Iowa, the World War II warship that is now a San Pedro museum. Military personnel on the Iowa saluted as the arriving ships — their crews dressed in Navy whites on deck — passed by.
The ships arrived sporadically throughout the day and were tied up just north of the Iowa, prompting the busy commercial port to take on the designation of a Naval Vessel Protection Zone under enforcement of the U.S. Coast Guard, a protocol since 9/11 that ensures passing vessels don’t come closer than 500 yards of the ships.
For the estimated 1,000 visiting crew members, Fleet Week offers a chance meet with community members and see the sites of Los Angeles. Destinations include Dodgers and Angels games, Universal Studios, Hollywood landmarks, and the L.A. Zoo.
U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Ben McIntyre, a search and rescue planner, has been to a number of Fleet Week events, which are held in seaports along both the West and East coasts.
While sailors have a chance to see Los Angeles and take part in volunteer projects with local citizens, McIntyre said, visitors will have the opportunity to see what life is like aboard the active-duty vessels via walk-on ship tours.
“The community gets to come out and see what the Navy is and what the Navy does,” said Lt. Kristina Wiedemann, a U.S. Navy spokeswoman.
The visiting ships’ home ports are in San Diego, except for two Coast Guard cutters.
The visiting ships are:
- USS Comstock: A dock landing ship. It was the second Navy ship to be named for the Comstock Lode, a source of silver in Nevada, and its official motto is “Teamwork, Drive, Courage.” The ship was commissioned in 1990; it features a large well deck for the transport of U.S. Marine Corps vehicles and a large flight deck for the landing of helicopters or V-22 Ospreys.
- USS Spruance: A Navy guided missile destroyer. It was the second ship named for Adm. Raymond A. Spruance, who commanded American naval forces at the Battles of Midway and the Philippine Sea. Its motto is “Launch the Attack.” The ship was commissioned in 2011.
- USS Tulsa: A littoral combat ship. Commissioned in February 2019, the Tulsa stands out as one of the more modern designs. The ship performs high-speed transit, maritime interdiction operations, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and anti-terrorism missions. It also provides support in special operations and homeland defense.
- USS Scout: A mine counter-measure ship. This ship acts as a minesweeper and mine hunter, capable of finding and destroying moored and bottom mines. The Scout, as a part of the Avengers class, has a wooden hull with an external coating of fiberglass that helps reduce magnetic and acoustic signatures. It is equipped with sophisticated mine hunting and classification sonar systems. The Scout was commissioned in 1990.
- U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Forrest Rednour: A fast-response cutter. It is the first of four Sentinel-class fast response cutters to be home-ported on the West Coast. The Forrest Rednour, like the other Sentinel cutters — which replaced older patrol boats — can be deployed in a range of missions, including port and coastal security, marine safety, marine environmental protection, fishery patrols, drug and illegal migrant interdiction, search and rescue, and national defense operations. The ship, equipped with a high-speed boat to assist in boarding other vessels, was commissioned in 2018 and is based in San Pedro and the Port of Los Angeles.
- U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alert: A medium-endurance cutter. It is one of 14 active U.S. Coast Guard medium endurance Reliance-class cutters. The cutter is assigned primarily to law enforcement, Homeland Security, and search and rescue duties. Law enforcement duties include counter-narcotics operations, fisheries enforcement, marine safety and environmental protection. It was commissioned in 1969 and its home port is in Oregon.