Navy Capt. John "JC" Carter's grandfather was a ploughboy from Michigan who wound up in Brooklyn after serving on the destroyer USS Cole in World War II.
So when Carter, commanding officer of the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan, moors his charge in Manhattan on Wednesday for the 28th annual Fleet Week New York, it'll be a "dream come true," he said.
The Norfolk-based Bataan, along with guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge and the Coast Guard cutter Forward, will spend two days at sea before joining the Parade of Ships in the New York Harbor. Marines assigned to the Camp Lejeune-based 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit also will travel aboard the Bataan, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic spokesman David Todd said.
Fleet Week New York is a weeklong celebration during which sailors, Marines and members of the Coast Guard show off maritime skills and volunteer throughout the community. About 4,000 U.S. service members are participating this year, Todd said. They'll be joined by about 500 members of the Royal Canadian Navy, he added.
About 80,000 people attended last year's celebration in New York, Todd said.
Carter, a native of Hampton Bays on New York's Long Island, is attending his first Fleet Week New York after taking the Bataan to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. for Fleet Week Port Everglades earlier this month.
He said he's looking forward to promoting junior sailors during a ceremony planned for Friday at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. The event will be poignant for Carter because his boyhood friend, Arthur "Artie" Jones, died in the terror attack on the World Trade Center, he said. Carter has kept Jones' memory close during years of military service, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that followed the attacks, he said.
Carter said he sees Fleet Week as a chance to let people know about the work sailors often do behind the scenes.
The Navy's routine overseas deployments deter fighting "on our home turf," he said. "I'm excited to tell the story."