Seafair honors men and women who serve

From July 29 to August 2, U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships were moored along the Seattle Waterfront and anchored in Pier 66 and 69 for Seattleites and tourists to enjoy during the annual Seafair Fleet Week. Free to the public, spectators had a chance to observe the U.S. ships come into the harbor, speak with U.S. Navy and Coast Guard officers or enlisted and tour any one of the anchored vessels in Pier 66 and 69, which included the USN destroyers and Coast Guard ships.

Fleet Week began on Wednesday, July 29, with a “Parade of Ships,” where three U.S. Navy ships – USS Boxer, USS Gridley and USS Dewey – came in through Elliot Bay and passed along the Seattle Ferris Wheel on Pier 57.

On Thursday, the ships were opened for tours. U.S. Naval Destroyers were harbored at Pier 66, the USS Gridley and USS Dewey. Both similar in size, the USS Dewey, being a newer ship of five years, carried more upgraded  functionalities compared to the 20-year old USS Gridley.

The USS Gridley carries guided missiles  which are “multi-mission,” described by the Seafair website, and used for Anti-Air Warfare, Anti-Submarine Warfare and Anti-Surface Warfare.
According to the website, the 20-year- old ship has received upgrades on their defense capabilities. “The destroyer’s armament has greatly expanded the role of the ship in strike warfare utilizing the mk.41 Vertical Launch System,” stated the website.

The USS Dewey, being a newer ship, was used in Valiant Shield, “a nine-day joint air, land and sea cooperation training,” conducted in waters near Guam, explained the website.
Both ships are normally stationed in San Diego and have participated in the same 10-month deployment. In addition, the USS Dewey, along with the USS Gridley, were “an integral part of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group,” according to the Seafair website, and “provided support to strike operations in Iraq and Syria.”

The U.S. Coast Guard ship, CGC Midgett, was anchored along the same pier. The CGC Midgett, which is described as a “378 foot high-endurance cutter” by the website, is stationed in Seattle, and used to complete the U.S. Coast Guard’s missions, such as search rescue, homeland security operations, law enforcement and environmental protection.

In addition to the U.S. vessels were Royal Canadian Navy ships HMCS Vancouver, HMCS Whitehorse and HMCS Brandon. Unlike the U.S. Naval ship, the Canadian vessels were much older, with the oldest being HMCS Vancouver, which began its service in 1989.

The HMCS Vancouver is considered a “Halifax-class Frigate,” according to the website, and these ships “have been the backbone of Canadian naval operations.” With a length of 440 feet, the HMCS Vancouver and other Halifax-class Frigates are “the best ships of their size in the world,” stated the Seafair website.

Established as a Seattle tradition in 1950, Fleet Week, organized by Seattle Council and Port of Seattle, aims to honor the men and women who are in military service and “proudly and courageously serve our country,” explained the Seafair website.