NEW YORK (PIX11) — Thousands of Sailors, Marines and members of the Coast Guard from the U.S. and three other countries are now in New York, and they, as well as their ships, are available to the public through next Tuesday.

Their arrival began Wednesday morning with the parade of ships, a tradition in the event that’s happened in New York Harbor for nearly four decades.

The USS Wasp, based out of Norfolk, Virginia, led the flotilla of more than a dozen vessels. One of the people at the controls of the ship introduced himself in an interview after he’d been part of the crew that had steered the 843-foot-long ship into its berth on the Hudson.

Boatswain’s Mate Second Class Nelson Jiminian described New York as “my backyard.”

“I was raised in the Bronx, New York,” Jiminian said. Specifically, “174th Street and Topping Avenue.”

Jiminian has been in the Navy for seven years but returned home on Wednesday morning on the ship’s bridge — the control room — nearly as long as three football fields. He said that he was proud to steer her back to his home.

“I was standing up on the bridge,” he explained. “It was like a legendary moment. It was like a once in a lifetime. You don’t get this moment again.”

Jiminian is among the hundreds of people available to meet on board their ships in town for Fleet Week.

Another of the many people from the tri-state region who are available on the Wasp and other vessels is Marine Capt. Jayde Kemp.

“I’m from Jamaica, Queens,” Kemp said in an interview, adding that she’d never been to New York on board a ship. “I usually drive.”

Her message for local residents about Fleet Week is that they should all come over.

“Check out what the culture is about of the sea services,” Kemp said. “Although New York is a big melting pot, the sea services are an even bigger melting pot. You meet people from all over.” 

People like Chief Warrant Officer Lance Defoggi. He’s the commanding officer of a ship with a variety of interesting backstories connected to it. Defoggi is one of a select few people who command ships of his vessel’s class who are in the enlisted ranks. 

Also, that vessel, the Coast Guard Cutter Warren Deyampert, is the newest ship in the federal fleet. It was commissioned just seven weeks ago and is named after an unsung hero with a remarkable tale.

“Warren T. Deyampert was a petty officer second class, 1940s era,” Defoggi explained. “He was African American, and he was part of a volunteer rescue swimmer group who was credited with saving over 133 lives in the frigid North Atlantic in 1943.”

The Deyampert, and all the other ships, are available for tours, with crewmembers leading them. The ships are anchored on the west side of Manhattan and at the naval pier in Staten Island. The Manhattan ships will not be available for tours on Sunday.

There’s also a full schedule of Fleet Week events happening throughout the tri-state available here.

The ships leave port on Tuesday morning.