Friday, May 03, 2013

Fleet Week is Sequestered

Ouch!  A favorite spring rite in New York has been cancelled this year due to budgetary constraints.  Sequestration has left the U.S. Navy without the financial resources to stage the annual seven-day visit to New York’s West Side piers.  Fleet Week offered a chance for New Yorkers and a few tourists to mingle with sailors and tour a few Navy vessels.  Last year featured Navy programs and projects for energy efficiency and migration to renewable fuel sources. 

According to Congress we are just going to have to do without unnecessary expenditures like Fleet Week.  Estimates range from $7 million to $10 million to stage the event.  Salaries and benefits for the sailors who attend would add to the bill.  It all comes out of the Navy budget.    
I understand the need to ‘tighten the collective belt.’  It just hurts to give up an event that I look forward to each year.  See the May 29th post last year on my visit to the USS Wasp during Fleet Week 2012.

If we do not need Fleet Week, let’s open up the budget book and find a few more things we can do without.  Congress is the first thing that comes to my mind.  They have failed to act on a budget.  Why do we need them?  We can just set the budget with the mandatory 10% change up or down in a benchmark budget.  I doubt that will happen any time soon, although I feel confident I could find a few people who would support the concept.

USS Intrepid  -  New York City
Since we cannot get rid of Congress, perhaps New Yorkers should take Fleet Week out of their hands.  The City of New York makes about $20 million in incremental tourism revenue during the week the sailors come ashore.  It is in the City’s interest to keep the event going.  Maybe we should get some of those richly paid bankers to sponsor the event  -  paying the Navy to dock a couple ships for a few days.  We could have the Goldman Fleet Week or JP Morgan Fleet Week.  Since Congress has for all practical purposes failed to overhaul the banking system in a way that will prevent the sort of egregious abuses that led to the 2009-2010 recession, getting the bankers to take over parts of the U.S. budget would be a way for tax payers to recover damages.

Let’s keep going.  Fleet Week should not be limited to New York.  How about San Francisco?  Charleston?  New Orleans?  Seattle?  Galveston?  People in those communities would probably enjoy hosting the sailors, too.  Port towns could bid for the Navy’s favor.

This year I guess I will stage my own Fleet Week with a trip to the Intrepid over Memorial Day week-end. 




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