Cmdr. Jamie Achee and Lt. j.g. Tiffany Crosby work at the Command Center at One Maritime Plaza in preparation for Navy Week. Ships are to arrive Thursday and be open for tours Friday to Sunday.
the blade/amy e. voigt
With hundreds of sailors, and presumably thousands of visitors, converging on Toledo for Navy Week, who ensures there's enough bottled water for people standing in line to tour a ship, or orders a substitute vehicle if a van going to an event breaks down?
That's the job of the Navy's temporary Command Center at One Maritime Plaza -- a group of several dozen officers and enlisted who are entrusted with making sure the week of events goes as smoothly as possible.
The Navy also has set up a temporary security office and a public-affairs office, all in space provided by the Maritime Academy of Toledo, which ordinarily uses the space as classrooms for its maritime-simulator training programs.
"The city's been great. The Maritime Academy's been great," said Cmdr. Josh Himes, who is in charge of the several dozen people in the command center. "Folks appreciate the opportunity [of Navy Week] and have bent over backwards to support us."
Among those arriving in Toledo early this week to lay down the groundwork for Thursday's scheduled arrivals of five touring Navy and Coast Guard vessels is Lt. j.g. Tiffany Crosby of Toledo, whose tasks on the "protocol team" include making sure arrangements for meetings and tours with local dignitaries are handled properly.
"It's definitely different from the job title," Lieutenant Crosby, a Notre Dame Academy graduate, said of how her work in the Navy differs from what she might have expected when she enlisted nearly three years ago after finishing college at Eastern Michigan University.
But "knowing how to really communicate with city and other officials" is a skill the lieutenant "expects to be useful down the road" wherever her career might take her.
And having a little local knowledge was helpful when Lieutenant Crosby decided to take her colleagues to lunch.
"She took us to Tony Packo's," cheered Cmdr. Jamie Achee, another Command Center leader. "I loved it. Fried pickles: can't go wrong."
Five vessels -- U.S. and Canadian frigates, a Navy patrol boat, a Coast Guard ice-breaking tug, and the rebuilt War of 1812 brig Niagara -- are to sail into Toledo on Thursday afternoon to kick off a long weekend of tours and activities, with some events having begun Tuesday.
It is part of a six-city U.S. tour, plus several stops in Canada, timed to commemorate the War of 1812's bicentennial as well as to promote the modern Navy.
Commander Himes said the office space the academy allotted for the Navy's use has been superior to that available in many Navy Week cities because it is close to both the docking space for the ships and to dormitories, also belonging to the academy, that visiting shoreside personnel are using.
"This makes it a lot easier to get people to work and minimizes the amount of travel time," he said.
Renee Marazon, the academy's superintendent, said it also makes it easy for Navy sailors and officers to speak with, and give presentations for, students.
"It's the nautical, maritime [armed] service, and our kids are just excited about the War of 1812, and social studies, and Ohio history," she said.
Navy Week will expose academy students to the different careers in the service, as well as to the Navy's gender and racial diversity, which is "all important for our country and for our kids," Ms. Marazon said.
"It shows them the world of work," she said. "…This is real life. This is hands-on experience."
Academy students will present colors at dockside during morning ceremonies, and the drum corps will play when the ships come in, the superintendent said. The academy hopes to use the event to promote fund-raising for uniforms and for maintaining its maritime simulators, she said.
The ships are to arrive between 3 and 5 p.m. Thursday.
IF YOU GO
Navy Week attractions include:
Public vessel tours from noon to 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Navy Band concerts, parades, a helicopter search-and-rescue demonstrations, and morning and evening colors ceremonies.
For a complete list of events, go to www.navyweek.org.
The two frigates -- USS De Wert and HMCS Ville de Quebec -- will dock off One Maritime Plaza, just downstream from the Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge, while the coastal patrol boat USS Hurricane, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mobile Bay, and the Brig Niagara will dock at International Park.
Commander Himes said the Navy Week tour is a plum assignment for the crew of the De Wert, which spent most of last year deployed overseas in the Mediterranean Sea and then the Middle East -- the latter in support of American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and occasionally aiding an anti-piracy campaign in the western Indian Ocean.
"This is kind of a summer vacation -- we get to see the Great Lakes," he said, adding later that the summertime climate is less than ideal in the Persian Gulf.
City officials recommend parking for Navy Week at the Vistula Garage near Cherry and Summit streets or, for International Park, the city-owned lot on the east side of Boers-Boyer Way. Navy Week visitors should not use the lot closer to The Docks restaurants in International Park, said Jen Sorgenfrei, a spokesman for Mayor Mike Bell.
Contact David Patch at: email@example.com or 419-724-6094.