Fleet Week Sunk By Budget Cuts
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FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Federal budget cuts enacted March 1st have sunk plans for this year’s Fleet Week Port Everglades.
Navy warships, which have docked at Port Everglades as part of Fleet Week festivities for the past two decades, will not take part this year.
“This year for budgetary reasons, the Department of Defense has said that it is just not practical, that it is just not possible,” said Jean Sebastian Gros with Broward Navy Days which organizes events for the week.
According to the release canceling Fleet Week, the Secretary of Defense said the only community outreach possible under current budget conditions must “focus on local assets and at no cost to the government.”
For the past two decades, the public has been able to get up close to destroyers, air craft carriers and nuclear powered attack submarines. This year, those ships will stay home or on active duty.
“Their focus right now is to make sure that they are taking care of everybody that is deployed. The secondly want to make sure they are training the sailors and getting the ships ready if they are going to go on deployment,” said Fleet Week organizer Mary Ann Gray.
Instead of Navy vessels, Broward Navy Day organizers are planning to hold events using local military personnel.
“Along with our sponsors, volunteers, Navy Leagues, local organizations and partners, Broward Navy Days has worked this past year in preparation for Fleet Week 2013,” Fleet Week executive director Mary Anne Gray said. “Our local community was prepared to welcome the visiting military to South Florida with open arms. We will continue to host a series of recreational, vocational, and community service activities for these local units and affirm the mission of our organization.”
Businesses along Ft. Lauderdale’s famed beach will also miss the thousands of sailors and soldiers who stopped by during Fleet Week.
“I know they have a really good time,” said Ryan Niles of The Drunk Taco. “It’s a nice break for them. I’ve been told that personally and you can see it in their faces when they come and see the beach.”
Fleet Week is scheduled to run from April 29th – May 6th.
Fleet Week is not the only South Florida event impacted by the federal sequester.
Federal budget cuts scuttled the Coast Guard’s plans to take part in this month’s annual Conch Republic celebration in Key West.
Coast Guard crews and vessels have been regular participants in the festivities for the last 30 years. Organizer Peter Anderson said that the April 26 naval parade will go on but they will not be able to take part in the 10-day celebration.
Military aircraft won’t be flying high at this year’s Lauderdale Airshow on April 20th and 21st. Originally, a number of fighter jets and the Air Force Thunderbirds were scheduled to perform. They’re now grounded.
This year’s show will feature eight civilian acts, including stunt planes and skydivers, and the Goodyear blimp. The show will also feature the Spanish Air Force Patrulla Acrobática Paracaidista del Ejército del Aire.
They will be traveling from Spain to perform in commemoration of Viva Florida 500 is the State of Florida’s 500th anniversary celebration.
In addition, the Blue Angels have canceled all of their remaining performances for 2013 as of Tuesday.