New York City has tightened security to the highest level since the beginning of the Iraq war as 3,500 sailors and Marines from five countries sailed up the Hudson River for the 16th annual Fleet Week. Heavily armed officers are out in force at the city's bridges, tunnels, foreign consulates and subways.
Uniformed police are out in numbers in New York City and around its waterways, acting on intelligence information pointing to possible terrorist attacks on the East Coast of the United States. New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says he's not taking any chances, especially as 3,500 seamen from around the world dock in New York Harbor after the annual parade of ships along the Hudson River.
"There was some mention of East Coast Corridor - New York, Boston, Washington. There are a variety of messages being looked at," said Commissioner Kelly. In essence, the increase in volume, not necessarily just mentioning New York, is what has given the intelligence community cause for concern."
Nineteen ships from five countries sailed in for the annual Fleet Week, carrying sailors and Marines aboard some of the most high-tech vessels in operation today. There were fewer ships this year, because many are still on active duty in the Persian Gulf. A 21-gun salute kicked off the annual parade.
"The city really turns out for us, and the sailors have an opportunity to have a great time," said Rear Admiral Joe Walsh, commander of the Navy's northeast region and one of the planners of Fleet Week. "It's an opportunity for New York City and for America to see our ships, to see what the United States Navy is all about, what we do. We are their navy. I think this is a significant year just because of all of the operations that our navy has done."
Admiral Walsh says many of the U.S. seamen will march in Memorial Day parades throughout the city on Monday, honoring the memory of fallen American soldiers. Fleet Week events also will feature military demonstrations for the public and athletic tournaments for crews of participating vessels.