Navy Lt. Commander Cam Ingram, a class of 2004 U.S. Merchant Marine Academy alum, returned home on Wednesday for Fleet Week- but this time, he managed to bring the USS Zephyr with him.
“We volunteered for it and it was a long shot the stars would align, but it happened,” Ingram said.
The original request for them was actually to travel to SUNY Maritime, he said, but the logistics worked out.
“The original request for us was to go to the Bronx – actually over to SUNY Maritime – and [I’m a] Kings Point guy. It was like yeah, I cannot in good faith spend the night across the Long Island Sound,” Ingram joked.
Fleet Week New York, meant to showcase U.S. naval power and its sailors, previously limited itself to the New York City area. But with the USS Zephyr at Kings Point, its reach has extended to Long Island for the first time.
Fleet Week New York features over 3,500 active duty service members from the U.S. Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. It also showcases over 135 events like ship tours, an air show, drill performances, diving demonstrations and other ceremonies.
“It’s a real honor for us to officially be a part of Fleet Week New York ’17, to host a combatant vessel from the world’s finest navy,” said Rear Admiral James A. Helis, Superintendent of the United States Merchant Marine Academy. “And it’s especially rewarding for us to host a vessel that is commanded by one of our alumni.”
The USS Zephyr, a 174 foot long Cyclone-class patrol ship from Mayport, Florida, was originally built for SEALs with a combination of stealth and speed in mind, Ingram said. The ship can travel up to 35 knots – or 40 miles per hour.
But now the ship, manned by a crew of 28, and sometimes Coast Guard members, primarily engages in counter-narcotic operations in the Caribbean, he said. It is equipped with two Mk38 chain guns and four .50 caliber machine guns.
It helps U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and the U.S. 4th fleet cover a massive area spanning around 40 million square miles of ocean.
One of their latest busts was the confiscation of 750 kilograms of cocaine – worth $22.5 million – back in April.
“We are just a small cog in that large machine,” Ingram said.
Ingram said many his fellow graduates went on to a variety of services. They ended up in civilian industries, brokering, train industries, medical supplying and other places – without the strict service commitment.
“No other federal service academy would’ve been able to afford them the opportunity to do that,” Ingram said.
The only requirements upon graduating from Kings Point, Ingram said, are being a licensed coast guard, having a bachelor’s degree in science and accepting a commission into U.S. Navy Reserves.
“You don’t have the strict commitment that West Point, Annapolis or Colorado Springs have in where you’re required to go into that service,” Ingram said. “Here, it’s a much broader opportunity upon graduation.