Quartermaster 2nd Class Louis Gonzales uses a telescopic alidade on USS Blue Ridge. 

YOKOSUKA, Japan (April 2, 2012) - Quartermaster 2nd Class Louis Gonzales uses a telescopic alidade on the bridge aboard U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) as the ship returns after completing a six-week Pacific patrol. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jay M. Chu/Released)
USS Blue Ridge Returns To Yokosuka 
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Fidel C. Hart  
YOKOSUKA, Japan - Seventh Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) returned to Yokosuka, April 2, completing a six-week patrol throughout the Pacific.

The patrol began with a visit to the cities of Busan and Donghae, Republic of Korea (ROK), to participate in the combined forces Exercise Key Resolve 2012. The exercise strengthened the ROK-U.S. alliance; enhanced the combat readiness of ROK and U.S. forces; demonstrated the combined forces' interoperability; and showcased the U.S. commitment to the alliance.

Following the ROK visit, Blue Ridge conducted training evolutions at sea along with port visits to Hong Kong and Manila, Republic of the Philippines. While in both ports, crew members volunteered for community service events and participated in a variety of tours during their off time.

“As the flagship, our mission is to support Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, and to develop and strengthen relationships with our partners in the region,” said Blue Ridge Commanding Officer, Capt. Daniel Grieco. “This period out to sea was a terrific opportunity to do that and the crew had a great time visiting these fantastic ports of call.”

For some Sailors, this was their final underway period with the ship.

“I've been on the ship for three years,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Jenna Bailey. “I'm grateful that I was able to visit a lot of countries. Australia and Thailand were my favorites. Russia was interesting as well. I enjoyed being a part of their Victory Day Parade [WWII defeat over Germany]. The ship had some challenges, it was my first sea duty so I was not sure what to expect. I wanted to make the most of each port and spend time with my friends because in the Navy your friends are like your family. It is going to be sad leaving them.”

While it was a final underway for Sailors like Bailey, it was the first underway for many other crew members.

This is my first experience being underway with the ship and in the Navy,” said Seaman Adrian Sargent. “It was fun and interesting seeing all the new places. I give my first underway a 10!”
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