By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class James Norman, USS Blue Ridge Public Affairs
USS BLUE RIDGE, At Sea - Sailors assigned to U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) toured the Australian Anzac-class Frigate HMAS Ballarat (FFH-155) May 9.
Blue Ridge Sailors spent time aboard Ballarat learning about how about the Australian navy operates.
They were shown damage control bases, machinery control room, cafe, quarterdeck, recreational areas and administration offices.
"Showing American Sailors around the ship was a fantastic and rewarding experience because it's important we maintain a trusting relationship," said Australian Marine Technician Leading Seaman Brad Salter. "I think the highlight of the tour was being able to sit down in the cafe [galley] so our Sailors could interact with Blue Ridge Sailors. It was interesting to see how our two navies are similar, yet very unique."
"I enjoyed the chance to see a foreign naval vessel, especially in a fashion at sea where we were brought here on a rigid-hull inflatable boat, and left on a helicopter," said Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Tasha Martinez, one of 11 Blue Ridge Sailors who visited the ship. "It was amazing to see how the Ballarat worked as a diesel vessel compared to our steam ship where everything is operated by valves."
Blue Ridge and Ballarat participated in a passing exercise. The SH-60 Foxtrot Sea Hawk Helicopter, assigned to Warlords Light Helo Antisubmarine Squadron 51 (HSL 51) embarked aboard Blue Ridge, and conducted vertical replenishments (VERTREPs) with the Ballarat, which involved practicing loading and unloading pallets from ship-to-ship.
"HSL 51 pilots had the chance to conduct VERTREPs with an air crew other than our own," said Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Meyers, HSL 51 air boss. "The Australian navy uses different terminology and gestures we're not normally accustomed to and that prepares us for possible future joint task force operations. As allies to the Australian navy, the purpose of the VERTREPs were to help train the helicopter pilots and air detachment crew to work together."
Blue Ridge Sailors returned to Blue Ridge by helicopter.
"Working with the Australian navy was a joy and many people don't get this kind of opportunity to board a foreign naval vessel at sea," said Lt. j.g. John Money, Blue Ridge navigator. "It was wonderful to see how the Australian navy conducted their everyday navy life, compared to how an American Sailor would. This was a great chance I was afforded and I won't forget it."