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Fleet Week begins as Navy celebrates 242nd birthday

SAN DIEGO  – Public events for Fleet Week San Diego are to begin Friday with a variety of activities through the weekend at Broadway Pier as the Navy celebrates its 242nd birthday.

Attendees can tour ships, view displays of high-tech military equipment and enjoy live entertainment from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A country music concert with Tim Hurley is scheduled for 6 p.m.

The Sea and Air Parade is set for Saturday at noon on San Diego Bay.

The organizers are presenting a more condensed version of the annual event. In prior years, events were spread out over several weeks.

“We have done a complete makeover of Fleet Week this year,” said Bryan Smylie, the president of Fleet Week San Diego. “We have compressed the schedule, focused on our sailors, Marines and Coast Guard personnel and their families and are really engaging the San Diego community.”

Organizers said Fleet Week is a way for San Diego to express support for military personnel.

October 13 also marks the 242nd birthday of the United States Navy.

On that day in 1775, the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and voted to outfit two sailing vessels – the Andrew Doria and the Cabot, with ten carriage guns, swivel guns and a crews of 80 men. The ships were to sail out for three months and intercept transports of munitions and stores meant for the British army in America.

Soon, those two ships expanded into a Continental Fleet, an idea deemed crazy by some members of Congress. However, that fleet soon grew into an important force and the Continental Navy expanded to more than 50 vessels over the course of the Revolutionary War.

Now 242 years later, the United States Navy has a fleet of 279 deployable ships, over 3,700 operational aircraft, over 324,000 active duty sailors, over 106,000 reserve sailors, and over 260,000 civilian employees.

Naval Base San Diego is the homeport of the Pacific Fleet, consisting of 46 Navy ships, one Coast Guard cutters, seven Military Sealift Command logistical support platforms, several research and auxiliary vessels.