USS Blue Ridge Cuts Ribbon for New Gym
By Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Brian A. Stone, USS Blue Ridge Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan - USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) held a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the opening of its newly renovated ship's gym Nov. 17.

Capt. Daniel Grieco, USS Blue Ridge commanding officer, said he was excited to open up the gym for the crew to use.

"I'm so happy to see all these excited faces, looking eager to try out the new equipment," said Grieco. "I'm very glad that all of you have the opportunity to use this brand new gym."

Morale, Welfare and Recreation provided the equipment while the assembly and installation was left up to the ship's crew led by Chief Operations Specialist (SW) Damiean Williams, Blue Ridge command fitness leader.

"Having a new gym increases morale, and it gives Sailors a way to get rid of stress," said Williams. "It's been a lot of hard work, but we got a lot of support from the command. It just feels good to complete a major project that will benefit the entire crew."

The project took several months and required Sailors to get rid of rust in some spots while entirely replacing the deck in others. Operations Specialist Seaman Apprentice Tosha Wyrick took part in renovating the gym and said the project was difficult, but rewarding.

"It's going to be great," said Wyrick. "All the hard work that we did is going to pay off. I'm looking forward to working out in the gym. The equipment is so much better than before. I really want to use the new abdominal machine."

At times, entire divisions were involved in the renovations, taking apart the space from top to bottom, disassembling old equipment and taking it off the ship. Contractors had to be hired to crane lift items on and off the ship. Vehicles had to be scheduled to come and pick up the old equipment. At every step of the process, multiple departments were involved in the operation.

"This was a very tough job," said Williams. "We're just trying to get the ship the best product possible and make sure it lasts."

Williams said so many new machines were installed that he couldn't even remember them all by name. The diverse array of new equipment ranges from new spin bikes to chest presses, to hoist machines for a complete workout. According to Williams, fixing up the gym and installing the equipment was only one part of the puzzle, adding that many other people helped get the equipment to the gym.

Chief Information Systems Technician (SW) Norris Carter tackled the logistical side of the renovation by tracking shipments of equipment and working with MWR to get everything needed to put the ship's gym back into shape.

Carter said the renovation was complex, but the reward was worth it and the ship's crew finally has the kind of gym they deserve.

"It was a big thing to be able to get everything together," said Carter. "But it's worth it, because this will encourage a ship-wide culture of fitness. Most important of all, this is the kind of gym our Sailors want to use."

Blue Ridge is commanded by Capt. Daniel Grieco and serves under Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7/Task Force 76. Blue Ridge is the command ship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. Task Force 76 is headquartered aboard White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa Japan with an operations detachment in Sasebo, Japan.
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