U.S. Marines with I Marine Expeditionary Force and Sailors assigned to U.S. Third Fleet aboard several San Diego-based U.S. Navy vessels will dock at the Port of Los Angeles from 30 to Sept. 6, 2016 to celebrate the first Los Angeles Fleet Week.
Fleet week is a celebration of the sea services, which Marines and Sailors from U.S. Navy ships make a major city a port of call. It is a Naval-American tradition that dates back to World War II.
For more than a decade, the Port of L.A. has been the venue for Navy Days. L.A. Navy Days is an event that, similar to fleet week, showcases Navy and Marine Corps capabilities, but at a smaller scale.
A collective effort between military and civilian agencies led to the request to amplify the festivities and change from Navy Days to Fleet Week.
Arley M. Baker, senior director, Port of L.A. Communications Group, said that the Port of L.A. has a strong history working with the Navy.
“There’s a tremendous amount of resources that the Navy-Marine Corps team, the Port of L.A., the city and a variety of public agencies put into these types of visits,” Baker said. “By super-sizing Navy Days, we strongly felt that we could maximize on the core goal of facilitating meaningful interactions between the Sea Services and citizenry. This led us to approach (U.S. Third) Fleet last year about bringing a Fleet Week to L.A.”
U.S. Third Fleet will bring their Sailors and naval assets to this year’s LAFW, as they usually do for Fleet Weeks along the west coast, while I MEF will showcase its Marine Corps war-fighting, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities on ship and ashore to highlight the abilities of the Navy-Marine Corps team.
Over 170 Marines based at Camp Pendleton and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar make up Marine Task Force Los Angeles this year. The Marine LA Fleet Week Task Force command element is made up of Marines from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 (HMLA-369), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and is led by Lt. Col. Nathan S. Marvel, HMLA-369’s commanding officer.
Marvel said LA Fleet Week is a good opportunity for the Marines to interact with the L.A. community and show them what the Navy-Marine Corps team is capable of in defense of the nation.
“All three major elements of the (Marine Air-Ground Task Force), also known as a MAGTF, will be on display during Fleet Week,” Marvel said. “Visitors will be able to interact with our Ground Combat, Logistics Combat and Aviation Combat Elements of the MAGTF. There will be vehicles, ground support equipment and aircraft on display. Additionally the Marines of Task Force Los Angeles will be out participating in a multitude of activities to include community relations activities, social events and sports competitions.”
Marvel added that the task force is composed of Marine units that have a long-standing history in the region.
“Southern California is our home,” Marvel said. The units that make up this MAGTF are stationed across Southern California. This is a great opportunity for our neighbors and fellow citizens to get to know the Marines and for the Marines to thank the community for their support.”
The ships will parade into the Port of L.A. on Aug. 30, which will officially kick off LAFW. Baker said the port is ready to host the ships and the service members on board, and encourages them and the community to explore the area and enjoy the festivities.
“LA Fleet Week will be an outstanding opportunity for the men and women of the Marines, Navy and Coast Guard to visit and interact with the greater Southern California community in a number of meaningful ways,” Baker said.
Baker went on to add that both, service members and community will have the opportunity to participate in various events throughout the week.
“Our hope is that the Marines and Sailors will explore the local downtown and waterfront areas, so they get a flavor of the L.A. Waterfront,” Baker said. “This is one of the oldest and proudest communities in L.A., and they are very excited to welcome the Marines and Sailors.”
Some of the events scheduled for LA Fleet Week include aircraft flyovers, military and first-responder displays, a science, technology, engineering and mathematics exposition, food, entertainment and a variety of other fun activities, as well as a Labor Day morning “Conquer the Bridge” race.
If you want to see more of the Navy-Marine Corps team, see them at San Diego Fleet Week. Sept. 10-15 where Marines and Sailors will kick off the event with the Sea and Air Parade beginning the five days of ship tours, static displays, military band performances and more. Or, check out the Marine Corps’ largest airshow in the country, the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Airshow from Sept. 23-25 in San Diego.
Story by Sgt. Ricardo Hurtado