USS Blue Ridge Conducts Fast Cruise, Prepares for Patrols
150226-N-KL617-069 YOKOSUKA, Japan (Feb. 26, 2015) Operations Specialist 3rd Class Jeromy Bamo, left, and Fire Controlman 1st Class Lamar Jackson, both assigned to the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), carry a box of ammunition. Blue Ridge is making preparations to get underway and resume patrols within the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kelby Sanders/Released)
USS Blue Ridge Conducts Fast Cruise, Prepares for Patrols
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jordan KirkJohnson
YOKOSUKA, Japan – Sailors aboard U.S 7th Fleet Flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) conducted a simulated underway known as a “fast cruise” Feb. 27, to prepare for their upcoming sea trials.

The fast cruise is a series of seamanship and damage control training evolutions designed to reacclimatize Sailors into an underway mindset and gauge overall operational readiness after a lengthy period pier side.
“All the drills we run will ultimately prepare us for the challenges we’ll face while underway,” said Operations Officer Lt. Rory Schneider. “The fast cruise will help us ensure we’re ready.”

After a 6-month inactive period, the ship’s Flying Squad, first responders to any shipboard casualties, jumped back into training by running several damage control drills.

“We’re important to the ship’s readiness because we’re the first responders around the clock, in and out of port,” said Damage Controlman 1st Class Joni Abando. “The drills today were meant to knock off the cobwebs and get us back into the quick-response mindset.”

The fast cruise concluded with Sailors manning their general quarters’ stations and eventually conducting an abandon ship scenario. All hands went to their assigned lifeboats and received training on how to don life-saving equipment and the proper protocol for safely abandoning the ship.

“The drill is targeted at the newer crew members,” said the Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class James Goodin. “We want to be sure that in case of an actual emergency, everyone would know where to go, who to muster with and the safest way to abandon ship.”

Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan for 35 years. As the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Robert L. Thomas, Blue Ridge is vital in maintaining partnerships in the 7th Fleet area of operations.
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