It's been a while since I've posted anything nautical. Time to fix that.
If you're a San Francisco Bay Area resident, you're probably aware that Fleet Week has just wrapped up out on the bay. The Petaluma Sea Scouts were invited to attend the commissioning of the USS AMERICA (LHA-6) on Saturday. Then on Sunday, the SSS Compass Rose steamed out of the Petaluma River and took station off of Alcatraz Island to watch the airshow over the bay on Sunday featuring the Blue Angels.
The crew had a pretty good time:
For more photos and details, read on...
Saturday started bright and early with an 0600 rendezvous in dress blues so we could all pile into as few cars as possible and make a convoy trek to the designated event parking at San Francisco's Pier 80. The commissioning ceremony for USS AMERICA (LHA-6) was being held at Pier 30. It's quite a hike.
Fortunately, there was a fleet of shuttle buses that got us to the ship with time to spare for silly portraits:
The commissioning ceremony included speeches and presentations by the Secretary of the Navy, the Commander of the Pacific Fleet, the Mayor of San Francisco, and several other dignitaries. It concluded with the ship's crew laying aboard, manning the rails, and bringing the ship to life:
And a fly-by from a couple of VF-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft:
After the ceremony concluded, the scouts went aboard to take a tour of the ship:
Below decks, they got to check out all sorts of Marine Corps hardware:
On the hangar deck, there was another Osprey all folded up and stowed:
We made out way up to the flight deck next:
There we saw all manner of helicopters lashed down on deck:
After wandering around the ship for a while, we made our way back to the shuttle buses and the parking lot to begin the long voyage home.
The next day, the crew got a bright and early start on board the SSS Compass Rose:
The day began with a quick check to make sure everything was properly stowed and ready for sea:
Even this little guy was properly secured:
After lighting off the main engines, we were underway and bound down river:
As usual, we were being watched:
Entering San Pablo Bay, the water was exceptionally calm:
Around 1100 we passed the pump house in San Pablo Bay:
Then the East Brothers Lighthouse:
By 1140 we'd left Red Rock astern:
Then turned toward Raccoon Straits:
The weather was warm and clear and the aft lookout was posted topside:
As we passed Angel Island on our port side, some of the Civil War reenactment folks at the West Garrison fired off one of their cannons:
Then we got a perfect view of the streets of San Francisco:
Then we headed for the Gate:
The crew in the pilothouse was fully engaged:
And the grill was fully manned:
Then we passed under the bridge just to say we did:
When we turned back toward the bay, we were met by a couple of dolphins:
Then it was time to get into a prime location to view the airshow. It's no secret that the best spot is on the west side of Alcatraz Island, so there's plenty of other boats that gather there. Here's one of them:
And here's another:
And while both of those were trim, sharp-looking vessels that were expertly handled, most of the crowd looked more like this:
With all of the close-quarters maneuvering silliness, it's amazing that there weren't a huge number of collisions.
The airshow started with the Leap Frogs, the US Navy's skydiving team, parachuting into what looked like Chrissy Field. Then there were various other aerobatic performances by prop planes as well as jets before we spotted "Fat Albert," the support plane for the Blue Angels:
After the big guy had buzzed us a couple of times, we spotted the Blue Angels coming in over Angel Island to the North:
Being right in the middle of the bay meant that we were usually directly underneath the planes for most of their maneuvering. Each time they'd make an ascent directly overhead, we'd get hit with the blast of noise from the jets' exhaust and it would shake the whole ship. The crew seemed to get a kick out of it:
When the airshow had ended, we loitered for a while to allow the rest of the boats to clear out before getting some way on and heading back up the Petaluma River:
Shortly after twilight, the ship was moored safely and securely in the Petaluma Marina. The next day dawned to find her looking sharp and serene:
More adventures to come. Stay tuned...