Here comes the Navy!
And the Marines and the Coast Guard — and three Royal Canadian Navy ships for neighborly support.
About 4,500 Navy, Marines and Coast Guard personnel will turn NYC into the set of a Fred Astaire movie again as the 28th annual Fleet Week occupies Manhattan, the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and the USS The Sullivans’ Homeport Pier on Staten Island from May 25-31.
The maritime services show-and-tell includes tours of titanic assault and defense ships, razzle dazzle aviation manuevers and reenactments of rescue ops, performances by drill teams and brass bands, and solemn services in memory of the fallen. (Check out the schedule at fleetweeknewyork.com.)
Fleet Week “is really good publicity for the Navy,” but is also an outreach opportunity, allowing people to “interact with sailors and ask anything you want,” said SH2 Jerome Lewis-Tinsley, who will be at Manhattan’s Pier 88S on the amphibious assault ship the USS Bataan, a vessel that participated in Joint Task Force Katrina, helped with disaster relief in Haiti, and rescued 282 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.
Lewis-Tinsley, 34, who was raised in the Lower East Side’s Alfred E. Smith Houses, and now supervises the ship’s laundry (“depending on your rank, we may do some of your personal items”), expects questions from young people concerning military careers.
A graduate of Martin Luther King, Jr. High School, he is in his 12th year of military service and says his shipmates are eager to see NYC sites (and buy Jordans) while off duty.
Some of them “have this weird perception that New York is a bad place,” said Lewis-Tinsley, who has tried to explain that it is unlikely that they will wind up as an inspiration for a police procedural while ashore. “I do tell them that if they take the subway, the rats are real: That is not a myth,” he said with a laugh.
His shipmate, Renee Yeatesbrisbon, 38, from West New Brighton, Staten Island, is looking forward to a fix of local gyros and pastrami sandwiches.
The Bataan, commissioned in 1997, is the first Navy ship built specifically to house females and Yeatesbrisbon is one of several hundred women in the 3,000-plus crew.
New Yorkers sweating the affordable housing crisis could always consider enlisting: “Once you’re in the Navy, you always have some place to sleep,” said Yeatesbrisbon, who compared her sleeping compartment to a cramped midtown basement micro-apartment. “There are no windows. . . . The racks (beds) are stacked up like shelves: You have to climb into it. I’m in the middle rack,” of three bunks.
Yeatesbrisbon entered the Navy four years ago as a light sleeper but swiftly adapted to ignore snoring and ship noise: “You learn to be a heavy sleeper.”
Yeatesbrisbon is eager to show off the mammoth Bataan to friends and family, but neither Yeatesbrisbon — who plans a 20-year career — or Lewis-Tinsley will be returning to NYC when they leave service. Yeatesbrisbon, who is engaged to a chef on a Disney cruise ship, has already bought a house in Norfolk, Virginia. Lewis-Tinsley, who is a serious relationship with a nurse, is looking to buy in the same area.
That said, the city of his birth is a great place for a sailor to berth temporarily.
“New Yorkers have some kind of love for servicemen and women,” Lewis-Tinsley said.