Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blue Ridge Arrives in Cairns

CAIRNS, Australia (NNS) -- USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and the embarked U.S. 7th Fleet staff arrived in Cairns, Australia for a scheduled port visit as part of the ship's fall deployment to further positive relations with regional partners Oct. 12.

The amphibious command ship crew and embarked staff will have the opportunity to enjoy an area of Australia known for its beautiful landscapes and proximity to the Great Barrier Reef.

"The crew is full of anticipation about the Cairns visit," said Capt. Thom W. Burke, Blue Ridge commanding officer. "We just finished a week-long visit to Sydney, which was a sensational port visit. Now we are anxious to get out and see more of Australia, especially this beautiful city and its surroundings."

While in Cairns, the 7th Fleet flagship will take in the sights during the numerous scheduled tours, participate in community outreach projects, and welcome local Cairns residents for guided tours of the ship, all in the spirit of friendship and camaraderie.

"The U.S. and Australia have a proud, longstanding history of working together," Burke said. "Visiting Cairns is an outstanding opportunity for Blue Ridge to experience this breathtaking place."

Blue Ridge departed its forward-deployed home of Yokosuka, Japan, Sept. 2 and visited Guam Sept. 12-14, New Caledonia Sept. 23-26, and Sydney Sept. 29 to Oct. 6.

Blue Ridge serves under commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7/Task Force 76, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force. Blue Ridge is the flagship for commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.