Sailors and Marines man the rails aboard USS Essex (LHD 2) during a parade of ships at San Francisco Fleet Week, Oct. 6. (U.S. Navy/MCSN Sabyn L. Marrs)

SAN FRANCISCO - The amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), mine countermeasures ship USS Champion (MCM 4), and Royal Canadian Navy Hfrigate HMCS Winnipeg (FFH 338) departed San Francisco Oct. 10, bringing the 37th annual Fleet Week San Francisco to a close.

Throughout the week, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guard members volunteered at multiple community service projects, including a VA hospital, a food bank, a St. Anthony’s Foundation Kitchen, and a children’s hospital.

Marine Cpl. Alex Sieck, attached to Combat Logistics Battalion 11, said he was thankful for the opportunity to volunteer at St. Anthony’s.

“Throughout my time here in San Francisco for Fleet Week I’ve had multiple people come up and thank me for my service, but I haven’t felt like I deserved their thanks until I volunteered at the St. Anthony’s Kitchen,” said Sieck. “They see all of us in uniform, and their faces just brighten up. I’m so happy I got this opportunity.”

Throughout the course of the ship's time in port, nearly 19,000 visitors toured the ships.

Along with the ship tours, the visiting ships participated in a parade of ships, and U.S. Navy Blue Angels performed in three air shows.

“The Blue Angels are just spectacular,” said Amy Lee, a San Francisco resident. “This is the first time I’ve seen their performance in an air show, and it’s just breathtaking. From the sounds of the jet engines practically shaking the entire city to the stunts they do, I am so amazed with the talent of the pilots.”

In addition to the ship tours, air shows and community service opportunities, fleet week also included a Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) Senior Leadership Seminar as well as a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) expo.

The mission of DSCA is to enhance coordination and cooperation between the U.S. military and civilian emergency management authorities, in the event of a catastrophic incident.

“We have to be prepared if a major earthquake were to happen, but the only way we can truly be prepared is if we have meetings and discuss the capabilities of each emergency service,” said Bryan Caaveo, the DSCA planner for U.S. 3rd Fleet. “We get together and build a relationship, so that we will be able to work together better in the event of a disaster.”

STEM is an initiative and educational program designed to impassion students to pursue careers in these disciplines and provide them with opportunities for success STEM fields.

U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy and constantly coordinates with U.S. 7th Fleet to plan and execute missions that promote ongoing peace, security, and stability throughout the Pacific.

The U.S. Navy flight demonstration team Blue Angels fly over San Francisco Bay, Oct. 7. (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Samantha Bay)