Fleet Week has always been a giant show and tell for the U.S. Navy, Marines and Coast Guard as well as a treasured time of shore leave for sailors in a fabled port town.
But for some of the 1,500 number military personnel sailing into New York City for the 27th year of Fleet Week, which begins Wednesday, it's also a time to come back to "home sweet home."
While some sailors on the USS Barry, which will be moored at the USS The Sullivans Pier at the Staten Island Homeport until May 26, are anticipating seeing NYC for the first time, others are eager to reconnect with the friends and family they left here.
Petty Officer First Class Brandon Robinson who is originally from Coney Island, will show his family and friends that housing is not as tight in New York City as they might imagine: Robinson, who is 30 years old, sleeps with "80 dudes" in a "berthing compartment" of the destroyer.
Robinson, an E-6 fire control man, and the crew of the USS Barry have been engaged in an epic spring cleaning: "We're using grinders to get up all the rust, and priming and painting to make it look nice for you guys!" he said of his floating home.
The epic snoring Robinson has endured on the boat has warmed up his ears for some loud nightlife in Manhattan dance clubs. He's also jonesing for some Not Ray's pizza in Fort Greene.
Older, more experienced salts have told sonar technician and Fleet Week newbie Jonathan Torres, 27, who is from Hunts Point in the Bronx, that he can expect a warm welcome running around town in his working whites. "I'm excited to see how we're welcomed in NYC," said Torres, a third class petty officer.
Before meets old friends for drinks at Jake's Dilemma on the Upper West Side, he will show his dad, a school bus driver, and his mom, a school bus matron, that there are lifelines on the ship to keep him from falling overboard.
"They'll see I'm safe: She likes to worry a lot," he said of his mother. Also, "I'll definitely be showing her all the guns we have on board," to assure her the Barry is well armed in the case of attack.
(Note to Jonathan: Be prepared if mom has a reaction opposite to the one you hope to engender when you exhibit the weapons.) Torres is eager to see his family - and to meet a brand new nephew who should arrive in NYC shortly before he does.
Navigator Lt. Joseph Deighan, 26, of New Rochelle, most wants to guide the massive ship safely through the New York harbor. "I lay a track and we follow it closely. The biggest thing is the shoal water -- the places that aren't deep enough ... but there are buoys on each side and if we stay between them," the 505-feet long ship with a 31-feet deep draft shouldn't run aground, he explained. A tug boat will help the massive boat pirouette so it can "go past Manhattan for the Parade of ships" and Deighan will be monitoring the boat's distance from others to make sure there are no rear end accidents in either direction.
Fleet Week, said Deighan, is "a great opportunity to show off the flag and show off our appreciation for New York and the civilian population."
His wife will be driving up from Norfolk to meet up with Deighan and see the town. What will they be doing while on shore? He doesn't know. "She's the admiral," Deighan said of his wife -- and she had yet to issue orders.