PYEONGTAEK, Republic of Korea – U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) departed Pyeongtaek Aug. 25.
Sailors had the opportunity to interact with their Republic of Korea (ROK) navy counterparts, giving tours, hosting an evening reception on the ship’s main deck, and volunteering in the local community.
Sailors volunteered at West-Pyeongtaek Bang Jeong-hwan Children's Center and Poseung Local Children's Center by assisting the staff with doing small renovations around the centers and playing games with the children.
Culinary Specialist Seaman Marco Hannel says he finds every community service event to be a rewarding experience and looks forward to giving his time to brighten the days of children in the ports Blue Ridge visits.
“You could tell the kids really enjoyed our company,” Hannel said.
“After we played a game of charades, I was fortunate enough to win a picture frame, hand-made by the children, that I plan to put our group photo in.”
“It will remind me of the time I spent with them,” he added.
Blue Ridge hosted tours for 160 ROK sailors, showing them the ship’s main deck, helo pad, pilot house, ceremonial passageway, mess decks, and forecastle.
Serving as a tour volunteer, Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Alexa Orodio said it was a memorable experience to see the ROK sailors enthusiasm while onboard Blue Ridge.
“Giving tours to sailors from a different nation, who have so much in common with us, but yet so many differences was very unique,” Orodio said. “They were intrigued to see the ship and how our ship operated compared to theirs.”
Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, for nearly 33 years. As the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Blue Ridge is instrumental in forging partnerships in the region while leading the fleet with its advanced shipboard communications systems.