By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael H. Lehman, Maryland Fleet Week and Air Show Baltimore Public Affairs
BALTIMORE (NNS) — The departure of U.S., Canadian and British ships from North Locust Point and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor marked the end of Maryland Fleet Week and Air Show Baltimore, Oct. 9.
Maryland’s second iteration of this weeklong maritime celebration included public tours of the ships, an air show featuring the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team, a Fleet Week festival in the Inner Harbor, a 5k run, as well as various educational and community-oriented events.
“Having the U.S. Navy, the Canadian Navy, the British Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard has been absolutely amazing,” said Chris Rowsom, executive director, Historic Ships in Baltimore. “We have had thousands and thousands of people down here in the Inner Harbor and a record number of people touring ships.”
More than 32,000 Baltimore and Maryland citizens had the opportunity to tour more than a dozen participating ships, according to preliminary counts.
“It’s a really good, positive, family-friendly event for the city and that’s what Baltimore is looking for these days,” said Rowsom. “This is a great city and we need to have more people coming down town.”
The inhabitants of Baltimore were not the only ones to feel welcomed to the Inner Harbor and surrounding areas during the celebration.
“Baltimore has opened her arms wide for us this week,” said Rear Adm. Stephen Evans, Commander, Carrier Strike Group 2. “As I walked around and spoke with people, whether it be at a planned event or just walking around the Inner Harbor, I was very welcomed by the citizens here.”
Evans said he saw citizens engaging Sailors and asking questions about their story and why they serve.
“The American people don’t get the opportunity to see just how good these young men and women are at what they do, or how dedicated they are to serving our nation and defending our way of life,” said Evans. “Having fleet weeks like this one is our opportunity to show that.”
Similarly, Rowsom said that most of the time, when the Navy is performing its job, they are often over the horizon and not visible.
“This was an amazing opportunity for the young men and women who serve our country aboard our Navy ships to interact with the public,” said Rowsom. “I think [the community] learned a lot about what the Navy does and what their life is like and also got a chance to thank everyone for their service.”
Both Rowsom and Evans said that Maryland Fleet Week and Air Show Baltimore was a major success and positively impacted both the Sailors and the public.
“We have been able to show the citizens their United States Navy and because of this, we all walk away with a greater sense of understanding and a greater sense of togetherness,” said Evans. “I’d like to thank the city of Baltimore, the state of Maryland and all those who helped plan this event. It was a huge undertaking and it is absolutely worth the time and effort.”
A long list of U.S. ships participated in MDFWASB, including the Harpers Ferry-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), the Freedom-class littoral combat ship USS Milwaukee (LCS 5), the British “Duke”-class Type 23 Frigate HMS Monmouth (F-235) and the Canadian Kingston-class coastal defense vessel HMCS Moncton (MM 708).
MDFWASB is Baltimore’s celebration of the sea services and provides an opportunity for the citizens of Maryland and the city of Baltimore to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as see firsthand the latest capabilities of today’s maritime services.