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Detroit — At first glance, Detroit doesn’t seem to have much in common with the U.S. Navy.

But the city has plenty in common with the military branch, speakers said Monday during an event to kick off Detroit Navy Week.

Both Detroit and the Navy played roles in keeping America safe, said Rear Admiral John Jolliffe.

The Navy patrols waterways around the world, while Detroit was an Arsenal of Democracy, converting its auto factories to produce weapons for the Allies in World War II.

“Wth the nation on the verge of collapse, it was saved by the city of Detroit,” Jolliffe told a crowd of 50 at Campus Martius park.

And that’s not all.

The warship USS Detroit will be commissioned into the Navy fleet next year, said Jolliffe. It will be stationed in San Diego but will stop by Detroit for a look-see next summer.

This is the sixth ship named after the city.

And finally Jolliffe, who is deputy commander of the U.S. 3rd Fleet, has a personal connection to Motown.

He was born and raised in Detroit, leaving for a career in the Navy, where he has remained for 40 years.

“Needless to say, I’m a big fan of the city,” he said.

The purpose of Navy Week is to inform residents about the Navy, and allow the Navy to learn a little about the city.

During the kickoff Monday, several city proclamations were read welcoming the Navy, and a Navy band played patriotic songs.

Residents who attended the ceremony were surprised by the strong link between the city and military branch.

“I’m an Army man but I was impressed,” said Andy Thomas of Detroit. “That’s good to know.”

Future crew members of the USS Detroit will be in the city through the week, not just learning about the area but lending a helping hand.

The sailors will be doing community outreach at food banks, the YMCA, Ronald McDonald House, Habitat for Humanity, Boys and Girls Club and the VA Medical Center.

Other events during the week include members being recognized at the Tigers game Wednesday and demonstrations of robotic systems by a Navy ordinance disposal group Tuesday at the Detroit Zoo.

The highlight comes Saturday and Sunday when the Navy’s Blue Angels perform at the Thunder Over Michigan Air Show at Willow Run Airport.

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