YOKOSUKA, Japan -- The engineering department aboard U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) worked arduous hours ensuring all operational requirements were met throughout the duration of the ship's first patrol of the year which successfully concluded March 28.
Blue Ridge visited three ports: Busan, Republic of Korea; Hong Kong and Manila, Philippines to engage in theater security cooperation and participate in local communities by visiting schools and playing sports with host-nation military personnel.
The deployment saw delays initially as Blue Ridge faced some pre-deployment obstacles that threatened to derail her plans. Engineers had only a short amount of time to test and become familiar with new equipment installed in the fire room.
"Many of my Sailors had to work through weekends and give up their holiday leave in order to get the ship ready to get underway," said Chief Warrant Officer Donald Ling, Blue Ridge boilers officer. "They banded together without complaining."
The engineering department utilized a two-section (six hours on, six hours off) work schedule. Ultimately hard work and perseverance paid off, as Blue Ridge passed necessary assessments and made it underway.
"We all stepped up our game and had to be very flexible in order to get all the work done and be ready," said Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Norman Macaraeg.
Blue Ridge Sailors of all engineer ratings were also called upon to repair crucial equipment while underway.
"We faced several major casualties, but everyone just came together, pulled up their sleeves and got the job done," said Ling. "Now the engineering plant is running smoothly."
Ling is proud of how his Sailors welcomed the challenge and overcame those obstacles.
"In my 21 years of service, 16 of which have been at sea, I've never worked with or for better shipmates than those I work with on Blue Ridge," he said.
Blue Ridge is commanded by Capt. Richard McCormack and 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.