April 23, 2012
NOLA NAVY WEEK SETS RECORD VISITATION FOR SHIPS
121,000 people visit nine ships during week long commemoration of the War of 1812 bicentennial
New Orleans, LA – One by one, the nine remaining ships that participated in NOLA Navy Week made the bend in the river Monday morning with bells pealing and people waving. Hundreds of people arrived early to bid farewell to the ships as they made their way to varying and different destinations.
By 11:00 AM the flotilla had disappeared from sight. All said, nine ships from six nations hosted tours for more than 121,000 visitors at their berths along the east bank of the Mississippi River and filled the city with more than 3000 Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen.
“New Orleans has a long and important history with the military and an event of this magnitude is one we were happy to host,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “We are proud that we were the beginning and will be the end of the War of 1812 commemoration, when we welcome back tall ships and naval vessels from the United States and around the world in 2015.
Events through the week included ship tours, community service projects throughout the area, and lectures and tours about the War of 1812. Two Blue Angels air shows were scheduled but had to be cancelled due to inclement weather. Military drills and training exercises on board the ships were also a part of the week.
“New Orleans was proud to host this amazing event,” said Mark Romig, President and CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation and Chair of the NOLA Navy Week Host Committee. “Our event was a huge win for our citizens and visitors and a model for the other port cities to follow.”
Visiting ships included the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp, the destroyer USS Mitscher, and the training frigate USS De Wert; the HMS Montrose from Great Britain, the HMCS St. John’s from Canada, and the FS Germinal from France. Tall ships included the USCG Barque Eagle, and Operation Sail (OPSAIL) ships, the KRI Dewaruci from Indonesia, and the Guayas from Ecuador.
“America’s tall ship Eagle, the Ecuadorian Navy’s tall ship Guayas and the Indonesian Navy’s tall ship Dewaruci attracted more than half of the public visitors at NOLA Navy Week,” said Operation Sail Chairman Jose Fuentes. “With great enthusiasm, OpSail looks forward to the opportunity of returning to the very welcoming and exceptionally hospitable port of New Orleans.”
Ten community service projects were completed by visiting military, with approximately 8600 man hours donated to the city of New Orleans. There were six local high school visits, and four university visits. Twenty-seven other engagements included hospital visits, lunches with local leaders, receptions, and speeches.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our Sailors and Marines to tell their story, and the story of the sea services,” said Capt. Gary Boardman, commanding officer of USS Wasp. “I would like my Sailors to reflect back on what we as a Navy accomplished back in 1812 and look at how far we have come.”
Partners in NOLA Navy Week included the City of New Orleans, the United States Navy and Operation Sail, Inc.
Top donors were BP and Humana. Other major donors were MG Maher, Southern Eagle Sales & Service, Chevron, Rouses Supermarkets, Patrick Taylor Foundation, Ports America, New Orleans Seafood Board, Bollinger Shipyards, and Gray Line, Landmark Aviation, Acme Oysters, Jones Walker, Jacobs Engineering, Fore!Kids Foundation, and Louellen and Darryl Berger/Jax Brewery Parking.
Additionally, Cooper T. Smith, E.N. Bisso, Canal Barge, Associated Branch Pilots, Westfeldt Brothers, Dupuy Storage, Downtown Fitness, Subway, Associated Terminals and Turn Systems, Burger King, Christy Brown, Pam and Bill Ryan, Navy Federal Credit Union, Tabasco, Jet Blue, Capital One, the Port of New Orleans, the Louisiana Seafood and Promotion Marketing Board, RTA, and the Historic New Orleans Collection were also supportive with their resources.