Scaled-back San Francisco Fleet Week begins with virtual events

Holding a public event is a major challenge and there’s no exception for San Francisco’s Fleet Week this year.

The mostly virtual Fleet Week kicks off Monday when organizers, military leaders, and San Francisco Mayor London Breed give remarks on disaster response from Yerba Buena Island.

They’ll discuss various humanitarian programs and the value of the beloved event, which went virtual in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I am pleased that we have found a way to safely continue the tradition of San Francisco Fleet Week and pay tribute to the men and women of our armed forces," said Mayor Breed. "While Fleet Week will be virtual this year, we will continue our important mission of bringing together our military and emergency response community to prepare for any humanitarian assistance or disaster response. 

Organizers say they will leverage social media programming to continue the tradition of honoring the military and its relationship with San Franciscans. Festivities run through Oct. 11 and will include virtual ship tours, highlights from past Fleet Week events and a concert opened up by country star Tim McGraw. The air show and live portions were postponed until 2021. 

The shift in operations is a tough blow for the event that draws up to a million people and generates a significant amount of revenue. On Friday, U.S. Navy Destroyer sailed underneath the Golden Gate Bridge before anchoring near the Bay Bridge. No tours of the USS Michael Monsor were available during its overnight stay. 
“We are disappointed we can’t all spend Fleet Week with you this year, but the health and safety of everyone is a priority,” said Rear Admiral Philip Sobeck, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3.

Historically, the first few days of the celebration focus on disaster response and the latter half is when the fun community-based events would take place. This year the experience takes place on YouTube and Facebook live. Follow FleetweekSF on social media or visit their website for the latest updates. 

Bay City News contributed to this report.