Aussie Officers Gain Valuable Experience Aboard Blue Ridge 
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jacob Waldrop  
BUSAN, Republic of Korea (NNS) -- U. S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) hosted two junior officers from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) to offer them in-depth shipboard training, July 28 to Aug. 14, promoting cooperation between the U.S and Australia.

Sub Lt. Dionette Wilson and Sub Lt. James Chinner were selected by the RAN for their superior performances during officer training.

"This isn't a normal procedure for us," said Wilson. "We were picked to go as a reward for performing so well during our training to specialize as officers."

Both officers lived and trained alongside Blue Ridge crew members and a group of midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy who have also been aboard receiving their required annual training.

"They integrated quickly into shipboard life," said Blue Ridge Midshipman Coordinator Lt. j.g. Ronald Ceballos. "Being aboard allowed them opportunities to experience the differences between our two navies, which strengthens our mil-to-mil relationship."

Wilson and Chinner were able to join Blue Ridge Sailors in shipboard evolutions including a search and rescue exercise with China's Peoples Liberation Army (Navy) and live-fire gun shoots on the flight deck where they were able to qualify with the M9 pistol, M500 shotgun and M16 rifle.

They both agreed that their time aboard Blue Ridge was a valuable learning experience they can take back to their future ships.

"This has been eye opening," said Chinner. "It's fascinating to see the differences and similarities between our Navies."

"Everyone was so welcoming," Wilson added. "My job with the RAN is more specialized, so I was able to experience things I normally wouldn't."

Blue Ridge is on patrol in the Indo-Asia-Pacific with embarked 7th Fleet staff, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12 and Marines from Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Pacific.

As the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Robert L. Thomas, Blue Ridge is vital in maintaining partnerships in the 7th Fleet area of operations and has been forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan for 34 years.
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