- The Washington Times - Monday, May 20, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) Although at war for the second time since Fleet Week became an annual fixture in New York Harbor, the U.S. Navy is bringing in more ships than usual and inviting the public aboard for the first time since September 11.
Even so, Navy officials say security for the maritime celebration is unprecedented, with airport-type restrictions on visitors' bags and other items, as well as a commercial blimp, contracted by the Navy, patrolling above the Hudson River and beaming live television images to two ground security stations.
Twenty ships 18 American, one Canadian and one from Denmark with 6,000 sailors aboard will participate in Fleet Week, which started in 1987. The event runs from Wednesday to May 28.
American warships have remained on heightened alert since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which triggered U.S. military retaliation against terrorist groups in Afghanistan.
While a few selected visitors have been aboard U.S. ships since then, Fleet Week marks the first invitation to the general public, spokesman Navy Capt. William Armstrong said.
"This is an opportunity for the people of New York to recognize the work done by the fleet sailors and Marines in responding to the Taliban and al Qaeda," Capt. Armstrong said. "That's why the Navy has made an exception to the policy for the people of New York City."
He said the Navy considers New York's pier areas better protected than those in other cities where the ban on visitors remains in effect.
Ships in the May 22 arrival parade will "render honors" a salute by sailors manning the rails as they move up the Hudson River past the trade center site, where more than 2,800 people died.
The Navy plans special ship tours for firefighters, police officers and others who helped in rescue, recovery and cleanup at the trade center.
Absent this year will be the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy, a perennial Fleet Week visitor. With the flattop and its crew of 5,000 on combat duty in the Arabian Sea, the amphibious assault carrier USS Iwo Jima heads the lineup.


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