U.S. Secretary of Defense Visits the U.S. 7th Fleet Flagship USS Blue Ridge
YOKOSUKA, Japan -
Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta visited the U.S. 7th Fleet command flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) during his first tour of Asia-Pacific countries since becoming secretary of defense.
Panetta spoke with 150 Sailors from the 7th Fleet staff, USS Blue Ridge, USS Shiloh (CG 67), USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), USS McCampbell (DDG 85), and Commander Fleet Activities, Yokosuka on the Blue Ridge flight deck thanking them for their combined efforts during Operation Tomodachi in March 2011 and for their commitment and sacrifice in the Navy.
“You’ve put your lives on the line; you’ve been deployed time and time again,” said Panetta. “We’ve made commitments to you and your families and we’re going to stick to those commitments".
USS Blue Ridge transported Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief materials following the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11. The embarked U.S. 7th Fleet staff oversaw command-and-control of the operation, and directed the mobilized force of U.S. Navy ships and helicopters while aiding the citizens of Japan
“I really do appreciate your service, I appreciate your sacrifice, I appreciate what your families have done,” said Panetta.
Panetta’s trip to the Pacific Region is designed to reinforce the U.S. commitment to a strong military presence in Asia, meeting not only with allies in Japan, but in Indonesia and South Korea as well.
USS Blue Ridge is the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet and is commanded by Capt. Daniel Grieco. She serves under Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7/Task Force (CTF) 76, the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force