USS Blue Ridge (lcc19) 

USS Blue Ridge Concludes Successful 7th Fleet Patrol 
By Chief (Select) Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) Michael E. Wagoner, USS Makin Island (LHD 8) Public Affairs 
YOKOSUKA, Japan - U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), embarked staff and Marines from Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team Pacific (FASTPAC) returned to Yokosuka concluding a four-month patrol Sept. 4.

Before returning to Yokosuka, Blue Ridge pulled into Tokyo where they hosted a 'Big Top' Reception for foreign dignitaries. They also used this opportunity to invite friends and family aboard for a 'Tiger Cruise' from Tokyo to Yokosuka.

While on patrol, Blue Ridge visited 10 ports in seven different countries to strengthen relationships in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and to boost multi-lateral theatre security capabilities.

"I believe that this deployment was pretty successful," said Blue Ridge Command Master Chief Mark Tomlinson. "We enjoyed engagements with various militaries and communities to include exercises, training and community relations."

Many Blue Ridge Sailors took part in major drills and assessments and acquired various qualifications.

"We completed more than 80 drills during the MOB/D Damage Control Assessment with Afloat Training Group, Pacific Yokosuka. The repair lockers, Flying Squad and in port emergency teams handled the added responsibilities like true professionals," said Damage Controlman 1st Class Joni Abando. "All the hard work and training paid off resulting in a successful assessment."

For Blue Ridge Sailors and embarked staff, damage control wasn't the only hot topic on the qualification list.

"We had successful damage control, engineering and supply assessments while preparing to start major maintenance evaluations and repair availability," added Tomlinson. "On top of that, more than 180 Sailors qualified as enlisted surface warfare specialists."

Sailors and Marines participated in community service events including visits to schools, orphanages and hospitals.

"We hold community service engagements in foreign countries to interact with the locals and form a strong bond with those communities," said Lt. j.g. Jan Ingram. "As the flagship for 7th Fleet, it's very important to promote a strong and trusting relationship with friendly nations."

Blue Ridge also played an important role in joint exercises Talisman Sabre (TS) and Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) by serving as the joint task force command center for all branches during TS and the command center for all naval forces during UFG.

The ship made stops in Indonesia, Malaysia, East Timor, Singapore, South Korea, Australia and Japan and covered more than 14,000 nautical miles during its 103-day deployment.

"It feels fantastic to be back home with my family," said Legalman 1st Class Zandee Galang. "I plan to spend a lot of quality time with them in the days to come."

Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan for nearly 34 years. As the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Robert L. Thomas, Blue Ridge is vital in forging partnerships in the 7th Fleet area of operations.

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