YOKOSUKA, Japan - The Deputy Secretary of Defense (DEPSECDEF) Ashton B. Carter visited the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) to speak with Sailors and emphasize the importance of their mission in the Asia-Pacific region during a July 21 visit.
Carter thanked Blue Ridge Sailors and embarked 7th Fleet staff for their work throughout the region, which reinforced the United States Navy's reputation as a global force for good.
"As the flagship of the 7th Fleet, you conduct and prepare for some of the most important missions we face," said Carter. "During 'Operation: Tamodachi,' you provided support for Tsunami relief operations, proving yet again what makes our military great."
Carter thanked the Sailors of Blue Ridge and the 7th Fleet staff for their hard work, and made a special point to thank their families.
"When you call your family members, I would ask that you tell them, your spouses, children, parents, friends, and loved ones, that you were thanked for supporting the country," said Carter. "Thank you, each of you, for all that you do to keep the United States and our Allies secure and our defenses strong."
Sailors said they felt moved by the visit and appreciated Carter taking the time to thank them for their work.
"It's always great when we get visits like this," said Personnel Specialist 3rd Class William Baldwin. "Knowing that what we do is important really helps to raise the spirits of the crew."
In addition to his message of thanks, Carter emphasized the role of Blue Ridge and other 7th Fleet ships in the United States' "rebalance" to the Asia-Pacific region.
"Our rebalance to the Asia Pacific is a central tenet of our new strategy," said Carter. "The logic of the rebalance is simple: Thanks to the efforts of the men and women that have served here, the Asia Pacific region has enjoyed an environment of peace and prosperity for more than 60 years."
Blue Ridge is commanded by Capt. Daniel C. Grieco. Under the purview of Commander, Task Force (CTF) 76, Blue Ridge is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.