Navy’s newest ‘toy’ visits SUNY Maritime on Fleet Week

USNS City of Bismark and SSV Corwith Cramer on the SUNY Maritime dock.
Community News Group/ Sarah Valenzuela

Fleet Week once again returned to the waters of New York City on Thursday, May 24 through Monday, May 28.

SUNY Maritime College joined the festivities hosting two naval vessels, the U.S. Navy Ship City of Bismarck as well as the sail-powered SSV Corwith Cramer brigantine.

Over 12 schools and 1,900 kids and chaperones got up-close and personal with the two mighty ships while also engaging in special nautical-based workshops on the Maritime campus.

Both of these ships are unorthodox to the usual Fleet Week brigade around the city, though.

The City of Bismarck is an expeditionary fast transport and is in what the Navy calls a pre-initial operations capable vessel in a delivery test and trials period.

“What that means is it’s a new toy and we are still playing with it,” said the ship’s captain James Regan. “It’s a ferry, a really fast ferry. Just as you can drive your car onto the Staten Island ferry, we do that with tanks and other wheeled and tracked vehicles that the Army or Marines may use,” the captain added.

Unlike a battleship or destroyer, the City of Bismarck’s job is to get in and out of harm’s way as quick as possible.

With a top speed of 65 knots, that’s more than doable.

It also uses jet propulsion engines for speed, just like that of an airplane.

Regan, a Massachusetts native was enthusiastic to spend some time in New York City for Memorial Day Weekend.

When asked if he would see the greatest team in baseball play, the captain jeered that he heard the Houston Astros were in town.

Also unique to that of most Navy ships, the City of Bismarck is operated under Military Sealift Command rather than the Navy.

Meaning that the massive catamaran’s crew of 26 is civilian and non-military.

“I grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota which is ironic that I’m on this ship. Besides being the one cook, I’m the only woman on the crew, said Patricia Evenson, second officer in charge of navigations and operations.

“Everyone here is so supportive that I don’t even notice that I’m the only woman on the ship at times, we really are a big family. I encourage more women to join this career path because they add a new dynamic to the culture on board,” she added.

The Corwith Cramer is not what you would expect from a Navy ship either.

Stationed out of Cape Cod, this two-sail engineered ship is used for naval research around the world.

Approximately 25 students and its professional crew just returned from a voyage to the Caribbean to study the effects of micro-plastic pollution on the sea.

Besides its one satellite that is used for email purposes only, when the crew is out to sea they are cut from their cellphones for the trip’s five-week duration.

Which makes most non-nautical folk seasick to think about.

Both ships were open for public tours throughout the long weekend.

Now, The City of Bismarck is back in Virginia with some of its ‘new toy’ features to be played with while the Corwith Cramer has returned to its New England berth.

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