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Marines visit San Francisco for Fleet Week, earthquake planning

October 5, 2011 |  8:10 am

Flag More than 700 Marines and sailors from Camp Pendleton have deployed to San Francisco on a mission to win hearts and minds.

As part of the annual Fleet Week celebration, Marines are working with San Francisco officials on an earthquake relief strategy in case a major quake isolates the city by disrupting bridges and freeways.

The Marines are prepared to use ships to set up emergency medical facilities and aircraft to bring in supplies, officials said.

Lessons learned from the Marines' humanitarian relief effort during the recent earthquake in Japan are being incorporated into the San Francisco planning, officials said.

A planning session will be held aboard the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard, docked near Fisherman's Wharf.

Marines are also set to receive training from San Francisco firefighters in urban search-and-rescue techniques on Treasure Island.

Marines will set up a display on the Marina Green and march in the Italian Heritage/Fleet Week parade. A Marine band will give a concert at Golden Gate Park.

Fleet Week celebrations are held in several coastal cities each year, including San Diego, as a public relations gesture by the military.

San Francisco's reputation as a bastion of liberalism, which sometimes can give rise to an anti-military attitude, had made some Marine leaders reluctant to participate in a Fleet Week.

But after last year's Fleet Week was deemed a success, with Marines and sailors roaming San Francisco in uniform and being received warmly, the Marine Corps has increased its participation this year.

"Fleet Week is about exposing the Marine Corps to America," said Maj. Gen. Melvin Spiese, commanding general of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade. "San Francisco is no different."


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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

 Photo: American flag near San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Credit: Jeff Chiu / Associated Press