Blue Ridge Welcomes 27th Commanding Officer
150116-N-KG618-171 Yokosuka, Japan (Jan. 16, 2015) Capt. Richard McCormack, left, is officially relieved as commanding officer U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) by Capt. Kyle Higgins at the Blue Ridge change of command ceremony. The ceremony is a time-honored tradition, designated to ensure only authorized officers hold command and that all aboard are aware of its authenticity. Blue Ridge is currently completing a scheduled ship's restricted availability period, allowing the ship to resume patrols and to ensure the safety and security of its area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kevin A. Flinn)
Blue Ridge Welcomes 27th Commanding Officer
YOKOSUKA, Japan - USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, held a change of command ceremony at the Fleet Theater at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Jan. 16.

Capt. Kyle Higgins relieved Capt. Richard McCormack as Blue Ridge commanding officer after 15 months at the helm.

“People ask me what I will remember most about my tour aboard Blue Ridge,” said McCormack. “I tell them, 'The Sailors.'”

In his farewell address, McCormack referenced his fondest memories of the crew thanking, by name, the “unsung heroes” from various departments for helping to make Blue Ridge “The Finest in the Fleet.”

After reading his orders accepting command of Blue Ridge, Higgins stressed the importance of teamwork to his Sailors by altering one of his favorite quotes, “There is no limit to what we can do or where we can go if we do not care who gets the credit.”

“Teamwork will drive the Blue Ridge and 7th Fleet team,” Higgins said. "We will finish this ship’s restricted availability and come out of the shipyard stronger and ready for the mission.”

Guest speaker Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet Rear Adm. Hugh Wetherald praised McCormack for his leadership skills, noting McCormack’s ensured reliability of satellite and network systems to support multinational military exercises Key Resolve 2014 and Ulchi-Freedom Guardian 2014.

“You and your crew’s ability to provide that level of support underway is a testament to the hard work and dedication to the mission to command and control the vast Asia-Pacific region,” said Wetherald.

Higgins assumes command after serving as executive officer aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). As a naval flight officer, Higgins also accumulated more than 2,300 flight hours and 790 arrested landings and was awarded Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic (COMNAVAIRLANT) Carrier Naval Flight Officer (NFO) of the year for 2003.

Higgins is the 27th commanding officer of Blue Ridge since the ship's commissioning Nov. 14, 1970.
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