BUSAN, South Korea - U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) now holds the honor of being the oldest ship in the U.S. Navy’s active duty fleet, next to USS Constitution, after the decommissioning of the USS Denver (LPD 9) Aug. 14.
Blue Ridge’s keel was laid Feb. 27, 1967, and she was commissioned Nov. 14, 1970. Since 1970 the flagship has had a rich history to include commanding Operations Eagle Pull and Frequent Wind during the Vietnam War, receiving the Humanitarian Service Medal in 1984 for rescuing Vietnamese refugees during Operation Boat People, performing a nine-and-a-half month deployment as flagship for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command during the Persian Gulf War and rushing supplies and relief to Japan during Operation Tomodachi.
“Blue Ridge has a rich history of providing our Navy with the most capable afloat command platform in the world,” said Blue Ridge Commanding Officer Capt. Richard McCormack.
To maintain her position as the most capable flagship in the world, Blue Ridge utilizes the most advanced communication satellite and computer technologies available.
“Blue Ridge has a superior and more robust communications system than any other type of ship by far,” said Blue Ridge Communications Officer Cmdr. Hezekiah Natta.
As the demands of the mission evolve over the years, so too must Blue Ridge. The ship is constantly updating its equipment to stay a step ahead of its competition.
“Last year we did a complete overhaul and upgraded our communications equipment to allow us to continue our mission well into the future,” said Natta.
In 2016 Blue Ridge is scheduled to install a brand new Consolidated Afloat Network Enterprise System (CANES).
“CANES will provide the ship and her staff the capability to continue efficiently commanding and controlling all of 7th Fleet’s assets in her area of responsibility,” said Natta.
At every port the ship visits, the crew and embarked staff participate in community service engagements designed to promote peace, partnership and cooperative security. The mission requires Sailors who take pride in their service and hard work.
“It’s a great opportunity to serve and be part of U.S. Navy history,” said Ship’s Serviceman 2nd Class Terrence Daye. “I feel good knowing I play a critical role in something great and meaningful to the command mission.”
Blue Ridge’s mission is unique and requires a top-of-the-line crew ready to respond, at a moments notice, to any threat or humanitarian crisis.
“I’m honored to command this ship knowing she will continue, well into the future, to play the lead role in promoting stability and theater security cooperation in the Pacific,” said McCormack.
The flagship is currently 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.
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.