The U.S. 7th Fleet command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) transits the Pacific Ocean during a scheduled spring deployment. 
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Melvin F. Orr III, USS Blue Ridge Public Affairs

FUKUOKA, Japan (NNS)
-- USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and embarked 7th Fleet staff Sailors arrived in Fukuoka, Japan May 1 for the flagship's first visit to the city since 1981.

Fukuoka-based Boy Scout troop 3 is scheduled to come aboard Blue Ridge for a tour of the ship where the scouts will see the inner workings of the anchor system, enlisted galley and the ship's helicopters. The kids will also have a chance to sit in the captain's chair while visiting the pilot house. Blue Ridge boatswain's mates will give demonstrations of shipboard fire fighting, seamanship and knot tying.

On the same day, kids from the Kodomono-ie Children's Home are also scheduled to visit Blue Ridge for a tour of the ship. Later, Blue Ridge and 7th Fleet embarked Sailors are planned to visit the Children's Home to play games and sports with the kids as part of a community outreach project.

Blue Ridge Commanding Officer Capt. Rudy Lupton is invited to attend the opening ceremony of the annual Hakata Dontaku Festival to thank local leaders for Fukuoka's hospitality. The 7th Fleet band will participate in the Dontaku Parade at Reisen Park during the festivities in addition to performances at Canal City shopping mall and Yahoo! JAPAN Dome.

"We're thrilled to join the 2 million visitors to Fukuoka during the Hakata Dontaku Festival," said Lupton. "The crew is looking forward to seeing the colorful sights of this 800-year-old festival. Events like these give our crew a unique opportunity to experience the rich culture of one of our closest allies."

Sailors are expected to visit many of Fuokouka's attractions such as the Canal City, Fukuoka Castle Ruins and traditional Japanese temples and shrines. Some Sailors are also expected to travel to Sasebo which is a one-and-one-half hour train ride away.

Blue Ridge departed its forward-deployed home of Yokosuka, Japan March 2, for a spring deployment to further positive relations with regional partners. The ship has made port visits to Busan, Republic of Korea; Hong Kong; Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Pattaya, Thailand.

Blue Ridge serves under commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7/Task Force 76, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force. Blue Ridge is the flagship for commander, U.S. 7th Fleet.

Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.


For more news from USS Blue Ridge, visit www.navy.mil/local/lcc19/.
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