By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mel Orr, USS Blue Ridge Public Affairs
TOKYO - USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) welcomed aboard nearly 400 friends and family along with U.S. 7th Fleet staff Sailors for a "Friends and Family Day Cruise" June 18.
The three-hour cruise from Tokyo to Yokosuka offered guests a chance to experience what it is like to be underway on the ship and an opportunity to observe Sailors in action - including watching an SH-60F Sea Hawk helicopter launch from and return to the ship's flight deck.
"It's a unique opportunity for our family members and friends to actually get onboard the ship, get underway with us and see what we do here," said Master Chief Yeoman Steve Borba, Blue Ridge's friends and family day cruise coordinator. "It's important for us to share these experiences with them - they deserve it. After all, it's because of their support that we can do our jobs knowing that things at home are being taken care of."
The guests also had the chance to enjoy a meal prepared by the ship's culinary specialists, tour a variety of spaces within the ship, interact in a video teleconference, and watch damage control, seamanship, and stretcher bearer demonstrations on the main deck.
"This was our first time seeing flight quarters and we've never been that close to a helicopter before," said Theresa Chambers, wife of Chief Culinary Specialist Robert Chambers, who visited the ship with their two children. "The kids really liked the artillery and communications rooms. I didn't expect to learn so much during our visit but it gave us an idea of what everyone does on the ship."