Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Blue Ridge on Patrol in 7th Fleet

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mel Orr, USS Blue Ridge Public Affairs

USS BLUE RIDGE, At Sea (NNS) -- U.S. 7th Fleet command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) departed from Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka for patrol Feb. 21.

Commanded by Capt. Daniel Grieco, Blue Ridge is manned by more than 700 Sailors, including embarked 7th Fleet staff and Marines from Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team Pacific.

Blue Ridge will visit foreign ports to engage allies and strengthen partnerships across the Asia-Pacific region. Sailors and Marines will also participate in several community service projects with partner navies and local aid groups.

"USS Blue Ridge is departing for a deployment throughout the 7th Fleet area of operations and will conduct port calls to strengthen regional ties while training to maintain the crew's sea qualifications," said Blue Ridge Operations Officer Lt. Cmdr. Zachary McCarty.

The Blue Ridge Morale, Welfare and Recreation department offers service members opportunities to visit local markets, theme parks, memorials and other cultural sites during their time off.

"I can't wait to go shopping," said Culinary Specialist Seaman Lorena Cardoza. "Also, I'm looking forward to taking cultural tours and relaxing on the beach."

While Sailors will get the chance to enjoy rest and relaxation opportunities, Blue Ridge will be fully operational during the patrol. Blue Ridge will provide advanced communications capabilities throughout the 7th Fleet, supporting theater security cooperation, fleet coordination and engagement goals during the patrol.

The leader in bold, forward-presence at sea, Blue Ridge has been forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan for nearly 33 years. As the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Scott H. Swift, Blue Ridge is instrumental in forging partnerships in the region while leading the fleet with its advanced shipboard communications systems.