YOKOSUKA (NNS) – Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer met with leadership and spoke to service-members aboard U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) during a ship visit as part of a tour July 12.
Spencer began his visit by meeting with Blue Ridge Commanding Officer Captain Brett Crozier and other command leadership before participating in the tour, which highlighted some of the ship’s recently renovated spaces. During the meeting, Spencer took the time to discuss the ship’s projected schedule, command mission, and the responsibility Blue Ridge has as 7th Fleet flagship. Following the tour, Spencer sat down for lunch with the enlisted crew on the ship’s mess decks and took time to connect with a number of junior Sailors on a personal level.
“It was an honor to have the secretary aboard,” said Religious Programs Specialist 3rd Class Derek Coglievina. “I thought he was a great speaker and truly personable. It was pretty surreal to dine right next to somebody so high up in the Navy’s chain of command.”
Blue Ridge has undergone an extensive maintenance period over the course of two years in order to modernize the ship, allowing it to continue to serve as a robust communications platform in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.
“After all of the hard work we’ve been putting into the ship, it was a privilege to show the secretary just how far we’ve come in order to bring the ship back to sea,” said Damage Controlman 1st Class Joshua Nightengale, Blue Ridge Sailor of the Year. “We spoke throughout the entire lunch, and it was interesting to learn about his own personal story and to communicate with him on a working level.”
During his visit the secretary also met with a few select Blue Ridge Sailors in order thank them for their exceptional performance under the ship’s command.
“It was an incredible feeling to receive a coin from the Secretary of the Navy, and I won’t forget it anytime soon,” said Seaman Jackyly Dayto. “I think the fact he was so invested in spending time with the lower-ranking Sailors is a good sign of a true leader.”
Spencer was sworn in as the 76th Secretary of the Navy Aug. 3, 2017. In 1976, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served as an H-46 pilot until 1981 before departing active duty to enter the private finance sector.
Blue Ridge commissioned Nov. 14, 1970, making it the oldest operational ship in the Navy. After 47 years in service, the 7th Fleet flagship is scheduled to stay in active service for another 20-plus years.
As a command ship, 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.