Skip to main content

Why is there a warship in San Francisco Bay?

San Francisco Fleet Week may be almost three weeks away, but the USS Tripoli is bringing some of that naval spirit—and a bit of noise—to the Bay Area early with a port visit at Pier 30 this week.  

The Navy’s “newest amphibious assault ship” sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge on Saturday, making some San Franciscans wonder why there’s a warship in the Bay—and why it’s making so much noise.

Locals, some as far away as Bernal Heights, have reported on Facebook, Nextdoor and other forums hearing engine-like rumbling sounds and “low bass tones” emitting from the ship since its arrival. Public Affairs Officer for the Navy’s Expeditionary Strike Group 3, Lauren Spaziano, tells Here/Say that the tone is just the 844-foot ship’s service diesel generator.               

Instead of plugging into power from the pier, “the ship is operating on ship's power right now,” explains Spaziano. (Unfortunately, the pier doesn’t have the right hook ups for Tripoli to tap into SF’s power grid, so San Franciscans will just have to bear with the noise until the ship departs on Wednesday.) 

The warship and its crew of 1,200 are here for a “tabletop” exercise, or run through of how various government agencies would work together to manage aviation assets such as helicopters should a major earthquake occur. 

The vessel, Spaziano explains, is “like a mini aircraft carrier” from which military planes can take off and land. 

“Every year we look at a different facet of emergency response,” adds Brian O’Rourke, Media Relations Officer for the Navy’s southwest region. Although Tripoli’s visit is happening weeks away from official Fleet Week, it is a reminder of Fleet Week’s larger mission—to provide additional support to civilians and municipalities should disaster strike.   

“Fleet Week is more than just a fun port visit. It's actually a working port visit every year,” explains O’Rourke.