By Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Eric Garst, Navy Region Southeast Public Affairs
PORT EVERGLADES, Fla. (NNS) -- More than 2,500 U.S. Navy Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen arrived in Port Everglades, Fla., to participate in the U.S. Navy's largest community outreach program in South Florida, April 25.
Service members from visiting ships USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), USS Ross (DDG 71), USS Normandy (CG 60) and USS Annapolis (SSN 760), joined by elements from Navy Assault Craft Unit Four, USCGC Gannet (WPB 87334) and USCGC Diamondback (WPB 87370), as well as Marines from 2nd Marine Division, are scheduled to take part in a variety of community service projects and recreational activities during Fleet Week Port Everglades 2011.
Broward County Navy Days Chairperson Mary Anne Gray said the ensuing ship tours, community outreach efforts from Sailors, and an extension of South Florida hospitality to members of the sea services has continued for more than two decades.
"Sailors coming in give us the opportunity to show how much we appreciate everything they do and all the sacrifices they have made," she said. "This is also an opportunity for them [Sailors] to get out and show how much they appreciate what we do for them."
Fleet Week Port Everglades has historically interjected thousands of dollars into the local economy.
"Broward County benefits when Sailors go out into the community, visit restaurants, stay in hotels and go shopping," Gray said.
Gray said Broward County residents have been anticipating tours of the six U.S. vessels.
"We have more than 7,000 people that are going to come down to tour the ships, and a lot of them are school children, young kids from JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Candidate program), Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts," she said. "This gives them the opportunity to see the Sailors and a new career they may not have thought about in the past."
More than 2,500 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are in South Florida for Fleet Week Port Everglades 2011. The week-long celebration of the sea services honors the men and women of the military through public events and recognition, and also provides the sea services an opportunity to showcase the capabilities of surface platforms, equipment and the skills of the men and women serving aboard these vessels.