Navys Flagship Completes 1st Certification Since Returning Pierside
180121-N-DF478-122 YOKOSUKA, Japan (Jan. 21, 2018) The U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) returns to Pier 9 after an extended dry dock period at Fleet Activities Yokosuka. The ship and crew now enter a final upkeep and training phase in preparation to become fully mission capable for operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Marvin E. Thompson Jr./Released)

U.S. Seventh Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) recently took another step toward a full return to sea capability with the completion of their Anti-Terrorism Force Protection (ATFP) certification February 16.

This marked the crew’s first certifications since their end of their Extended Drydocked Selective Restricted Availability in January.

During ATFP certification phase, the ability of Blue Ridge’s Anti-Terrorism Training Team (ATTT) to safely and competently train security forces was tested with various security situations, including hostage scenarios, alarm response, surveillance, and swimmer attacks.

“As an ATTT member, we teach our Sailors about how to properly employ Antiterrorism tactics,” said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Juan Londono, ATTT member. “Running these drills are very important to our ships mission, as we hit many foreign ports during our deployments. It is important that we have knowledge of what types of threats could endanger the ship.”

To complete this certification, an Afloat Training Group (ATG) assessment team conducted a weeklong visit to test the strength of the ship’s anti-terrorism infrastructure and how well its security force can assess itself. With a small staff of assigned Masters-at-Arms aboard the ship, Blue Ridge’s security department encompasses Sailors from various rates throughout the ship, making the success a total team effort, according to Senior Chief Master-at-Arms Lauren Hall, ATTT coordinator.

“The successful completion of the ATFP certification was the first of many milestones for the Blue Ridge and her crew,” said Hall. “It highlighted the combined efforts of our Sailors in defending our ship, and their ability to think like a team despite their different backgrounds and rates. These skills are essential to our ability to protect the ship and its staff in foreign ports while conducting critical missions in the 7th Fleet.”

Despite the challenges involved with the continuation a still ongoing extended maintenance period, Blue Ridge passed the assessment with a final proficiency score topping 94 percent.

The drills were a culmination of months of security force training. Since Blue Ridge’s return pier side on January 19, the training team worked to train security forces on how to properly defend the ship in a new environment after nearly 19 months in dry dock.

With ATFP certification now in the rearview mirror, the crew now shifts focus to rapidly-approaching accreditations phases in both Search and Rescue (SAR) and Fleet Support Operations-Medical (FSO-M). A variety of certifications will follow in the coming months, with engineering tests beginning in late March.

Training Officer Lt. Ryan Monagle believes eagerness, along with a quickly-developing base of knowledge, are the keys to success moving forward, helping to establish the foundation of a well-rounded crew.

“Having the enthusiasm to work yourself or others out of problems is extremely important,” said Monagle. “Look for more problems and work them out again and again. If you continue that, there is no alternative other than you being put in a place of more responsibility, which in turn yields more competency and depth of knowledge."

Blue Ridge commissioned Nov. 14, 1970, making it the oldest operational ship in the Navy. After 47 years in service thus far, plans are for the 7th Fleet Flagship to stay in active service for another 20-plus years.

As command ship for U.S. Seventh Fleet, Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to the Yokosuka, Japan, area of responsibility for 38 years, patrolling and fostering relationships within the Indo-Asia Pacific Region.

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