FUKUOKA, Japan - Sailors aboard U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), embarked 7th Fleet staff and Marines assigned to Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Pacific arrived in Fukuoka, Japan Aug. 10.
While in Fukuoka, crew and staff will serve as goodwill ambassadors for the U.S., promoting peace and stability in the region while demonstrating a commitment to growing friendships. This is an opportunity for Blue Ridge Sailors and Marines to take full advantage of volunteering to take part in community service (COMSERV) events dedicated to making a positive impact.
Logistics Specialist 1st Class Vanessa Garciavargas said, "I do it because you get to experience the country in a different light. I get a completely different experience from each COMSERV I do and it's emotionally touching. I know I'm doing the right thing and I feel fulfilled when I volunteer my time."
Blue Ridge and 7th Fleet Sailors will join Japanese locals in joint community service projects, sporting events and the Obon (Festival of Souls). Public performances will be made by the 7th Fleet Band to further strengthen ties between Japan and the U.S.
Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Scott Swift and Commander in Chief, Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Fleet, Vice Adm. Yasushi Matsushita, held a press conference for local media, followed by ship tours and topped the evening off with a reception, commonly referred to on Blue Ridge as a "Big Top" aboard Blue Ridge.
Assistant Chief of Staff Logistics Officer, Capt. Ron Carr said, "Our department organizes and arranges the Big Tops. The purpose of Big Tops is to establish positive theater security cooperation between Blue Ridge and Japanese nationals. Our flagmess culinary specialists make it all happen. They're involved in everything from creating ice sculptures, cakes and entrees. They are involved in the whole process except for setting up the tents on the main deck."
Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan for nearly 33 years. As the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Scott Swift, Blue Ridge is instrumental in forging partnerships in the region while leading the fleet with its advanced shipboard communications systems.