Thursday, August 05, 2010

USS Blue Ridge, 7th Fleet Visits Manila

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Steven Khor, USS Blue Ridge Public Affairs

USS BLUE RIDGE, At Sea (NNS) -- The 7th Fleet command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) visited Manila, Philippines, Aug. 4.

While in port, the ship plans on strengthening ties between the United States and Philippines through shipboard tours, activities and community service projects.

Blue Ridge's Commanding Officer Capt. Rudy Lupton believes that the visit to Manila will be a rewarding experience.

"Manila is an exciting port of call for the crew," said Lupton. "Our Sailors are looking forward to relaxing, participating in community service projects, enjoying the local culture and experiencing the best that Manila has to offer."

The Sailors will also have the opportunity to go on Morale, Welfare and Recreation tours and rest and relax in the city dubbed "The Pearl of the Orient."

For some, the port visit will be the first time that they have the opportunity to immerse themselves in such a rich, diverse culture and tradition.

"This port visit is pretty exciting," said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Chris Silk. "I will get to do a little golfing, sightseeing, try the local food and maybe even meet Manny Paquiao."

For others, a port visit to Manila gives them the chance to see family and friends. Many of Blue Ridge's and embarked 7th Fleet staff Sailor's roots stem from Filipino heritage and the visit lets them feel at home again.

"It's a mix of feelings when I get to see my family because, like many other times I've seen them while in the Navy, it was unplanned, but exciting," said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Edgar Tandoy.

One of the ship's planned community relations projects in Manila will be a Habitat for Humanity project, where Blue Ridge and embarked 7th Fleet staff Sailors will be able to help build a daycare and learning center.

"I am excited that I will be able to help others clean up the environment," said Ship Serviceman Seaman Quinton Lewis. "If I am able to help others by making a learning environment possible, then that is the best feeling in the world."

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