The Story of Fleetweek


Fleetweek really started out on the West Coast in San Francisco in the late 70’s or early 80’s.

One of the New York Navy League Council directors, Richard Scheuing was visiting in California & experienced the wonderful public relations that was generated. 

Upon his return he tried for a considerable time to generate the enthusiasm but encountered resistance.    A few years later, Dick became President of the Council & made it his goal. 

The first Fleetweek in New York occured in April, 1988. Initially the Navy committed six small ships. 

The Navy League could not do it alone so the New York Maritime headed by Paul Preus joined to sponsor the event.   The 88 & 89 celebrations were run by both organizations & then in 1990 the New York Council, Navy League took over. 

Another Director, Art Ward (succeeding Scheuing as president) had influential friends in Washington. 

Ward & Scheuing went to Washington & sat down with then AIRLANT,  VADM Richard Dunleavy.  Hoping to get either a Battle Ship or an Aircraft carrier.  To their surprise,  AIRLANT offered both a Battle Ship & an Aircraft Carrier…thus Fleetweek was born. 

The 1988 Fleetweek was led off by the USS America (CV-66) & the USS Iowa battleship. 

Terry Dougherty was the first to run Fleetweek followed by Bill White and Kristen Kelly (married to one of the Fishers).  

Representing the US Navy was Patrick Burns who was involved for several years.  His Successor was Maggie Sweeney.   Today and for the past few years the baton was passed to Victor Martinez. 

I was involved since 1988 by taking sailors and Marines out to dinner.   This started as a small group and eventually grew to my hosting two hundred Sailors and Marines to dinner every year. 

I bought fifty tickets to ‘Phantom of the Opera’  for three or four years for the troops  and the theatre gave an equal number or more.  Finally the Shubert Organization came to the rescue and provided free Broadway Theatre tickets since 1991 to the present.  In 2011, the Shubert Org. arranged for 560 tickets, more than half were orchestra seats. To date, they are responsible for providing more than 10,000 tickets… and THAT’S THE STORY.


 FCM Ralph Slane

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