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Fleet Week San Francisco

This week the weather in San Francisco will be perfect for the annual Fleet Week. Thousands of visitors enjoy free tours of vessels on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at the Embarcadero. Visitors will get to board amphibious carriers, destroyers and cruisers. The Blue Angels will be performing several times. Fleet Week is a celebration of the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Canadian Navy. Friday is an exciting event as the tour of ships begins when the first ship, the San Francisco Fire Boat Guardian, goes under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Guardian Fire Boat. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Fire Department.

The Guardian has an interesting history. On October 17, 1989, many may remember the World Series Earthquake hit the San Francisco Bay Area. According to YachtPals.com, "The city of San Francisco itself immediately lost pressure in much of its underground water system, including those lines used to deliver firefighting water. The City's Fireboat #1, the Phoenix, was called into duty. As fires began to break out in the Marina District, the Phoenix began pumping water from the St. Francis Yacht Harbor into an above-ground system of hoses set up by the fire department, saving many homes and possibly many lives." After this huge, devastating loss to the city, two donors decided the city needed a second fireboat. YachtPals.com says that "The Guardian had been scrapped by the city of Vancouver in Canada, and was on her way to a salvager. In a hurry to save her, the vessel was purchased, a Buddhist group from San Francisco donated $50,000 to help defray fuel and travel costs, and a group of volunteers headed to British Columbia to bring the old girl to her new home. Three pilots from the San Francisco Bar Pilots Association volunteered to crew, and the engineer from the Phoenix was tapped to keep control of all the things which could possibly go wrong on a 1,200-mile journey aboard a 40-year-old, salvaged vessel which was never meant to travel in the ocean. The boat was originally called "Fireboat 2" but the children of San Francisco submitted names and "Guardian" became her official name.

Another vessel that will have many visitors is the USS Stockdale. The USS Stockdale is a guided-missile destroyer. The vessel's home port is San Diego and in September hosted a Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Day at Naval Base San Diego, along with the destroyer, the USS William P. Lawrence. This year the Department of Defense is recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. The USS Stockdale and the USS William P. Lawrence honor those who were POWs in North Vietnam.

The destroyer USS Stockdale. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elena Pence, courtesy of U.S. Navy.

Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale is a man to remember. He was held for seven-and-a-half years in the Hoa Lo Prison, which was often referred to pejoratively as the Hanoi Hilton. This man lived through unspeakable torture but refused to give up. He was the highest ranking naval officer that was a POW, and his leadership saved many prisoners at the camp. His unbelievable bravery was recognized and he was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1976. After his return he served as President of the Naval War College and after his retirement in 1978, became President of the Citadel and later a Senior Research Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institute. He also ran as Ross Perot's running mate during the 1992 Presidential election. Read more about this incredible individual, who made a huge difference with his life, at Navy.mil.

USS Coronado, LCS4

There is also a littoral combat ship, the USS Coronado. This is the fourth ship named after the beautiful California city. This class of vessel is designed to defeat threats in coastal waters where some submarines and small craft operate. (Source: NBCSanDiego.com)

HMCS Calgary

HMCS Calgary is a Halifax-class frigate that has served in the Canadian Forces and Royal Canadian Navy since 1995. (Source: Wikipedia.com)

HMCS Calgary leaves Pearl Harbor in July 2014. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Sgt. Matthew McGregor, courtesy of U.S. Navy.

If you happen to be in the Bay Area this weekend, you can tour a total of eight vessels, including the ones mentioned above. Other activities include the air show by the Blue Angels and events at the Humanitarian Village where people can see how the U.S. military responds to disasters. Learn all about Fleet Week - San Francisco, the festivities and Donate A Burger to a Sailor by visiting the FleetWeekSF.org.

"Hear the Beep Where You Sleep"

Smoke alarms save lives. Learn more about Fire Prevention Week at NFPA.org.

On Duty

A Glendale salute to the US Navy as it turns 240 on October 13.

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