What is Fleet Week? A brief history, from San Diego to South Florida

Fleet Week began in 1935 during California Pacific International Exposition
Posted at 9:57 AM, May 06, 2024

MIAMI — Fleet Week is a U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard tradition in which active military ships recently deployed overseas dock in a U.S. city for a week of military activities.

The first Fleet Week was celebrated in San Diego in 1935 during the California Pacific International Exposition. It has since grown to incorporate several major U.S. cities, including San Francisco, New York City and, until this year, Fort Lauderdale.

After more than three decades at Port Everglades, South Florida's Fleet Week moved to Miami this year.

U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daiella Levine Cava and other officials made the announcement last summer at PortMiami.

U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro speaks during Miami Fleet Week announcement, July 14, 2023
U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro speaks during an event to announce that the Navy will hold its May 2024 Fleet Week in Miami, Friday, July 14, 2023, at PortMiami.

Port Everglades, located just north of Miami-Dade County, had been home to South Florida's Fleet Week since 1990.

Fleet Week had a modern renaissance when it became an annual tradition in New York City in the early 1980s. It is generally scheduled to coincide with the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

San Diego's Fleet Week typically takes place in November.

For civilians, Fleet Week is a celebration of U.S. sailors and their contributions to defending the nation's coasts. But for those on board, it's also a break from the rigors of military life, providing sailors with some much sought-after shore leave.