Navy cancels ships for Rose Festival Fleet Week - KPTV - FOX 12

Navy cancels ships for Rose Festival Fleet Week

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The Navy will not be sending ships to the annual Portland Rose Festival Fleet Week this year.

The Navy announced Tuesday that budget shortfalls due to the sequestration are forcing military services to cut back on formal community outreach programs in 2013.

"It's disappointing, when we moved here last Summer, it was fleet week, and it was exciting and fun, so it's disappointing it won't be here now," said Portland resident Tuonglinh Sabo. 

 "Canceling air shows and navy activity is a big deal, a lot of people were looking forward to it in this area," said Portland resident John Murray.

The U.S. Navy's Blue Angels previously announced that sequestration cuts would keep the Flight Demonstration Squadron grounded for the Oregon International Air Show in July.

Fleet Week is scheduled to begin with ships arriving June 4.

According to the Rose Festival's website, the Navy has been a part of the event annually for more than 80 years. The USS Charleston was the first ship to visit the Portland Rose Festival in 1907.

News the US navy is pulling out of Portland's fleet week isn't a total shock to Rose Festival organizers, who say they've been preparing for this to happen because of the sequester. 

"This is Portland's party, that's our theme this year, we invited them, and unfortunately they couldn't come to the party this year," said Rose Festival Executive Director Jeff Curtis.

"We're gonna miss the US Navy and I know the public will as well."

Curtis says they have a full committee dedicated to ensuring fleet week goes on, and that includes ensuring other vessels anchor at the waterfront, like Royal Canadian Maritime Forces, and the US Coast guard.

"That's the good news, fleet week will continue, the tradition will continue and it's so important for that to happen," said Curtis.

"The festival is so vast and so significant, so much goes on at the festival and that will continue on and be great."

Navy leaders said canceling domestic ship visits is one of many steps being taken to prioritize and support forces operating forward now, those training to relieve them and the continuing maintenance of the Navy's fleet and aircraft.

"We will continue to find ways to engage locally, in keeping with Department of Defense guidance," said Rear Adm. Mark Rich, Commander Navy Region Northwest, in a statement. "We are thankful for what Seattle, Portland, and our community partners do to support our service men and women every day and look forward to continuing to work with those partners now, and in the future."

The Navy ships will also not be attending Seattle's Seafair Fleet Week.

The Navy, in a statement, said the intention is to continue fleet weeks in the future as the budget situation permits.

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