Blue Ridge Departs Busan 
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Bobby Northnagle, U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs  
BUSAN, Republic of Korea - U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and embarked 7th Fleet staff departed Busan, Republic of Korea after a five-day port visit March 8.

"Our Sailors benefit tremendously from the personal interaction between our two navies," said Blue Ridge Operations Officer Lt. Rory Schneider. "Over time, these bonds between services only serve to increase our shared war-fighting readiness."

During the visit, Sailors took advantage of several opportunities to discover Busan through tours sponsored by Morale, Welfare and Recreation which included visits to temples and the International Market. Additionally, service members competed in friendly basketball and soccer games with their Republic of Korea Navy counterparts.

"It was a great chance to connect with people from a different culture," said Logistics Specialist Seaman Raul Vargasestrada, a Blue Ridge soccer player. "It reminded me of how much sports and friendly competition can bring people together."

Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan for 34 years. 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.

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