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Our trip to Maryland Fleet Week by air and sea

Posted at 12:01 PM, Jun 14, 2024

BALTIMORE — The United States Navy invited us to embark on a tour aboard the USS Ft. Lauderdale en route to Baltimore for Fleet Week.

It was a wild ride. Just after 6am safety briefing, we were escorted to a pair of waiting MH60-S helicopters.

Off we went from Martin Airfield! While hovering over the water we await the arrival of the Navy vessel to take us on our tour.

It's my first time on a helicopter where the sites and sounds are completely new and breathtaking. But this is all in a day's work for the guys flying us out there.

Once we safely land on board Lieutenant Junior Grade Susanna J Rogers greets us:

"We're here on USS Ft. Lauderdale LPD28. The Navy's first landing platform dock. We're here to celebrate Maryland Fleet Week and we're excited to be here. My grandfather actually enlisted in the Navy out of Baltimore. This was his reporting stations so it has a lot of personal meaning to me."

Moving on we meet Lieutenant Junior Grade Ladale Austin. He is a Press Affairs Officer assigned to the ship who tells us a little about the ship.

"So the ship's purpose is to transport marines and their equipment to the beach. In addition to the landing craft, bring on three levels of vehicles and up to seven hundred marines."

One of those marines is Gunnery Sergeant Esteban Ramirez. He's standing in front of a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle along with his men.

"By trade I'm a radio operator. As of right now I am the radio chief. My role when it comes to this vehicle. We call it the JLTV. Is communications assets and support."

A career service member, his hard work has rarely been rewarded during fleet week.

"I've been in thirteen and a half years and I've only come to fleet week, this is my second time."

Now it's back up top to meet an officer who graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis in 2022. There she began her journey to become the Navy leader she is today. Her name is Lieutenant Junior Grade Katherine McAllister.

"At the Academy specifically, you get the opportunity to be exposed to a bunch of different leadership styles. And so kind of seeing all of those really developed my way of being a leader. And I'm always learning. It's a constant learning process. I'm currently the main propulsion officer on board the USS Ft. Lauderdale, so I work in the engineering department. Basically as a division officer I am in charge of my sailors, their career progression, and just getting them through their regular work day."

Across the wide expanse of the landing platform we meet Erlin Ramirez, an ITSN. He's the guy sailors call when they can't log into their systems.

"The Navy promised me to meet all sorts of people, learn all sorts of cultures, go to different places, security of a job and a career. And so far they haven't disappointed."

He grew up in Gaithersburg, Maryland among the many farms and villages. But he traded green fields for blue waters right after high school.

"The ocean fascinates me. We've explored only forty percent of the world and it's because most of it is under the water."

The other Marylander we meet is Alfred Kamara. He is another information systems technician (ITSN), ranked Second Class Petty Officer in the Navy. He grew up in Prince George's county. This is his first Fleet Week experience and it brought him home.

"Yeah, I didn't think like Maryland was the type of place to have events like this. I'm definitely excited to come back home and show my new Navy family what Maryland is all about."