OSAKA, Japan (NNS) -- The U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), and its embarked 7th Fleet staff, kicked off its spring patrol with a three-day port visit to Japan's cultural center, that concluded Feb. 27.
"It was great seeing old friends, and making new ones," said Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of U.S. 7th Fleet. "Thank you to the generous people of Osaka for being great hosts."
Aucoin described Japan as a country that enables the stability and security in the Indo-Asia Pacific.
"Our visit here represents our alliance, which continues to grow stronger," Aucoin said. "I'm proud that our partnership has proven to be key to the security, peace and prosperity of the Pacific region."
Blue Ridge's last visit to Osaka was after the ship provided command and control during Operation Tomodachi, where the U.S. and Japan demonstrated its strong partnership, providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake, registering a magnitude of 9.0, quickly followed by a massive tsunami.
"The presence of the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship in the Osaka area is incredible, incredibly reliable and meaningful to us," said Shojiro Takenaka, the director general of Kinku-Chubu Defense Bureau, in his remarks during a reception aboard Blue Ridge.
"Day in, day out, our Navy works alongside Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force, coordinating operations and training together," Aucoin said. "Our forces are better because of our ability to learn from each other and exchange information and technologies."
The U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Asia-Pacific area of operations. As the U.S. Navy's largest numbered fleet, 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build maritime partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability and prevent conflict.
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