USS Makin Island arrives in SF for Fleet Week


Just when it seemed safe to take a nice, quiet walk in San Francisco, there was a familiar roar in the sky. No need to duck. No need to cover. It's just Fleet Week, "I love the formation that they make, and just the show itself, and the sound," visitor Lucia Canes said.

And if you can catch a Blue Angel on the ground, he'll even explain the process behind Thursday's "survey flights," as they call them, using landmarks as checkpoints, "As a flight leader I am looking for those checkpoints that allow me to get in and out of the show box safely and effectively," commanding officer Captain Greg McWhereter said.

However, while the Blue Angels are the highlight of Fleet Week, local officials want people to know that Fleet Week is more than just an air show. They say to step aboard the USS Makin Island to learn more.

The amphibious assault ship is docked along the Embarcadero, where Mayor Ed Lee officially welcomed the Navy's arrival.

The floating city was too busy to visit San Francisco during last year's Fleet Week, the crew was preparing for a long deployment. But the USS Makin Island is back, and the crew is ready to give you a tour, "A lot of different aircraft on this boat right now so it's really interesting to see," U.S. Navy Lt. Lindsay Parker said. "The people are great to meet, have a lot of stories to tell, so definitely come out."

Local dignitaries and emergency workers climbed aboard Thursday morning to meet with military leaders. They are focused on how they'll work with the military if there's a disaster in the city, "Our military – the Navy, the Marines, the Coast Guard – are experts in logistics," Mayor Lee said, "And we need that expertise should there be a big disaster that happens here that closes our roads."

That focus has been a shift in Fleet Week festivities. Two years ago local leaders decided to try and make Fleet Week more than just an air show, so they brought attention to the humanitarian aid that the military can offer. Officials say that each year, the relationships have strengthened.

"Truth be told, we're not just learning about the military, they're learning about us and we're learning a lot about how things might play out in ways that we never would have had the opportunity to before," said Rob Dudgeon, Deputy Director of Emergency Management.

Onboard, the USS Makin Island has six operating rooms, 17 ICU beds, and an elevator from the flight deck to the triage room. This is what you'll see if you take a tour. But if the last visit is any indication, expect long lines to get in, "I think it's certainly worth the wait, just to see what your Navy does for you," said Captain Cedric Pringle, commanding officer of the USS Makin Island. "The living conditions onboard are exceptional, and a lot of people don't get that from standing on the street and looking at the big grey ship."

The USS Makin Island is docked at Pier 30 in San Francisco. Public tours start Saturday at 9 a.m.

The Blue Angels practiced Thursday starting at 1 p.m. On Friday they will practice from 4 to 5 p.m.

Weekend events

Other large-scale events this weekend include two Giants playoff games, a 49ers game, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, the Castro Street Fair and the Italian Heritage parade.

It's threatening to be a major traffic headache, and city officials are urging people to take public transportation, bike, or walk.

No matter which event you go to, we want to see how you're spending the week. Email your photos and video to or upload to

Click here for a list of this weekend's events and traffic information to help you get around.

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