Monday, October 20, 2014

Fleet Week With the Crew of the Sea Scout Ship Compass Rose

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:
Petaluma Sea Scouts Aboard USS AMERICA (LHA-6)

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:
Petaluma Sea Scouts Awaiting the Commissioning Ceremony of the USS AMERICA (LHA-6)

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:
Fleet Week extras  01

And a fly-by from a couple of VF-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft:
Fleet Week extras  00

After the ceremony concluded, the scouts went aboard to take a tour of the ship:
Fleet Week with Sea Scouts

Below decks, they got to check out all sorts of Marine Corps hardware:
Fleet Week extras  02

On the hangar deck, there was another Osprey all folded up and stowed:
Fleet Week extras  03

We made out way up to the flight deck next:
Island as Seen From the Flight Deck Aboard USS AMERICA (LHA-6)

There we saw all manner of helicopters lashed down on deck:
SH-60 Seahawk Helicopter aboard USS AMERICA (LHA-6)

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:
Meerkat on the Door

Even this little guy was properly secured:

After lighting off the main engines, we were underway and bound down river:
Headed Down River

As usual, we were being watched:
Bird on the Bank

Entering San Pablo Bay, the water was exceptionally calm:
Leaving the River for San Pablo Bay

Around 1100 we passed the pump house in San Pablo Bay:
Pumphouse in San Pablo Bay

Then the East Brothers Lighthouse:
East Brothers Lighthouse

By 1140 we'd left Red Rock astern:
Red Rock off the Starboard Quarter

Then turned toward Raccoon Straits:
Approaching Raccoon Straits

The weather was warm and clear and the aft lookout was posted topside:
Aft Lookout

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:
Cannon Salute from Angel Island West Garrison

Then we got a perfect view of the streets of San Francisco:
San Francisco Glittering in the Sunlight

Then we headed for the Gate:
Approaching the Gate

The crew in the pilothouse was fully engaged:
Pilothouse Crew

And the grill was fully manned:
Manning the Grill

Then we passed under the bridge just to say we did:
Beneath the Golden Gate Bridge

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:
Proper Motoryacht

And here's another:
Random Schooner

And while both of those were trim, sharp-looking vessels that were expertly handled, most of the crowd looked more like this:
Boatload of Idiots

With all of the close-quarters maneuvering silliness, it's amazing that there weren't a huge number of collisions. 
Ship of Fools

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:
Fat Albert Fly-By

After the big guy had buzzed us a couple of times, we spotted the Blue Angels coming in over Angel Island to the North:
Blue Angels Approach Above Angel Island

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:
Blue Angels in the Bay

Fleet Week with Petaluma Sea Scouts

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:
Headed Back Up 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:
Scout Fleet Week 29

More adventures to come.  Stay tuned...

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