Blue Ridge Invites Friends, Family for Cruise

YOKOHAMA, Japan (NNS) -- After more than 80 days, U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) welcomed family and friends aboard for the final stretch of it's 2016 patrol cycle May 16.

Over 200 friends and family members joined the ship in Yokohama as it made its journey back to Yokosuka, Japan.

"We are hosting this friends and family day cruise to provide our friends and family a firsthand look at what we do as Sailors onboard, allowing them to have a better understanding of the duties we perform day-to-day," said Chief Information Systems Technician Troy Young, Blue Ridge family day cruise coordinator.

The Blue Ridge team consists of more than 900 members, including embarked 7th Fleet staff, Marines from Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Pacific (FASTPAC) and the "Golden Falcons" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12.

While aboard, Blue Ridge's visitors will be treated to a steel beach picnic and get to see the "Golden Falcons" and the ship's flight quarters crew perform a helicopter exercise.

"Not many civilians get to see a flight quarters evolution in real life," said Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Jamal Najjar, Blue Ridge flight quarters landing signalman (enlisted). "This event gives us the rare chance to showcase the type of work that we do on a daily basis, while underway."

The ship's damage controlmen and Marines will also provide guests with the opportunity to see static displays of some of their equipment.

"We prepared a display of our firefighting equipment on the ship's main deck to give our visitors a chance to see how it works and actually try on some of our gear for themselves," said Damage Controlman 2nd Class Kevin O'Connell.

"I'm hoping that all of the families and friends will leave with warm hearts, and a better appreciation for what their loved ones do and the sacrifices that each Sailor makes," continued Young.

Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to the Yokosuka, Japan, region for nearly 36 years and recently completed its patrol, strengthening and fostering relationships within the Indo-Asia Pacific Region.

For more news from USS Blue Ridge, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/lcc19/.

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