Fleet Week Brings Jack Ryan And The Beach Boys To The Port Of LA

(Photo via L.A. Fleet Week's Facebook page)

Fleet Week kicks off this weekend, bringing a bunch of events including a major push for the new Amazon show Jack Ryan and a huge Beach Boys concert with John Stamos on drums to the Port of L.A. in San Pedro. It's all to celebrate the Navy, the Marines and the Coast Guard aka the military's Sea Services.

L.A.'s Fleet Week is relatively new. This is just its third year in existence. It could seem odd for a corporate sponsor to use it to promote a high-action TV show but Fleet Week president and CEO Jonathan Williams says it's a natural fit.

"I knew Tom Clancy when he was alive, great guy. And obviously, Jack Ryan was a Navy intel officer," Williams says.

This also marks the 100th anniversary of the West Coast office that works with Hollywood to promote the Navy in entertainment. They provide information to make sure the military is accurately represented on screen. One of their current projects includes the new Top Gun movie, shooting on a carrier right now.

Williams was one of the founders of Fleet Week, also acting as CEO of the USS Iowa battleship museum. He thinks it's important to represent the Navy well on screen, so Americans can see how their taxes are being used.

"To be able to do something with Amazon and the Tom Clancy series and their new show coming out, it really fit in exactly what we wanted to do for the event this year," Williams said. "Plus, we're in L.A. L.A. is Hollywood, right?"

An image from Amazon's Jack Ryan. (Courtesy Amazon)

The event lets the public to interact with the military, showing them what members of the Sea Services do. This year, the Canadian Navy is also taking part.

Not everyone feels positively about the armed forces but Williams sees the Sea Services as vital to the country and to Los Angeles.

"In the Port of Los Angeles — the biggest port in the country, America's port — these ships and our cargo, and those things that are core to how we survive every day as a society, come across the sea," Williams says. "It's our Navy and our Coast Guard that are keeping those sea lanes open and safe, for us to be able to get those bare necessities that we need to function in our life."

He hopes to attract a diverse crowd. Wiliams says families make up a large portion of Fleet Week attendees, including many with members serving in the military.

"But what we end up seeing is a lot of folks that don't understand the military, may not know the military, because they're coming down to enjoy the Beach Boys concert," Williams said. "It kind of opens the door for them."

That concert sold 7,500 tickets in under 30 minutes, according to Williams.

"We are excited to visit the Port of Los Angeles, play for the men and women of our United States Sea Services and be a part of L.A. Fleet Week 2018," the Beach Boys' Mike Love said in a statement.

While many members of the military attend Fleet Week events, Williams says the public makes up more than 95 percent of the event.

L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino represents the district that includes the Port of L.A. He tells us that hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected this weekend, with Fleet Week making a huge impact on the local economy.

"They enjoy our time in our restaurants and bars and cafes and tea houses, here in the downtown San Pedro area," Buscaino says.

In this Sept. 26, 2015 photo, the USS Iowa, a retired World War II-era battleship, is docked in the Port of Los Angeles. (John Antczak/AP)

The city is also one of the event's sponsors.

Fleet Week acts as a community fair with a first-responder "village" and a STEM area with battling robots. You can take guided ship tours, see laser and fireworks shows, watch celebrity basketball games and cooking competitions, and engage with the military.

"They have their exhibits out there, they're on the ships, they're talking about what they do, where they go and how they may utilize some of this equipment or what they're showing off," Williams says.

Beyond the public-facing part of Fleet Week, there's also outreach to members of the military, both past and present. Earlier this week, they worked with members of the military and other local partners to figure out what to do in the event of a major disaster, according to Williams. So maybe Jack Ryan isn't that far off.

The annual event runs through Labor Day weekend at the Port of L.A. Most of the entertainment is free with no tickets required although some of the big events — like the Beach Boys concert and the Jack Ryan premiere — have limited availability. There are more concerts throughout the weekend, including some cover bands and finalists from American Idol and The Voice. You can view the full schedule here.


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