YOKOSUKA, Japan -- U.S. 7th Fleet flagship, USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19) commemorates her 50th anniversary on Nov. 14. 2020.
Commissioned in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on Nov. 14, 1970, Blue Ridge has served as a unique platform for global command and control coordination. As the first ship in her class, Blue Ridge represents an accomplishment in the Navy’s ship design, as one of the most technologically advanced ships ever built.
In December 1979, Blue Ridge forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan and became the new flagship of U.S. 7th Fleet.
"There is no better ship to support us as our flagship. Year after year she has enabled operations of the largest forward fleet, while at the same time participating in enduring joint service and multi-national exercises, and supporting disaster relief operations." said Vice Adm. Bill Merz, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. "Everyone knows Blue Ridge, she has a rich history here in the region. The capabilities she offers to the fleet have served us well in the 7th Fleet area of operations."After fifty years of boundless continuous service, Blue Ridge remains operational and deployable through her crews’ unmatched devotion to duty and the partnership she has built among the local maintenance support.
“As the oldest ship in the fleet, she still runs like new, which wouldn’t be possible without the support of our local Yokosuka community,” said Capt. Craig Sicola, commanding officer of USS Blue Ridge. “For over four decades the local maintenance facilities and community members have been dedicated to helping us keep Blue Ridge in operation and ready to serve in the region.”
Blue Ridge’s vital role and commitment is a testament of her enduring participation in joint service and allied exercises addressing humanitarian and security crisis in the region, in addition to the partnerships shaped over the years.
From July 21, 1979 to June 30 1984, Blue Ridge and other ships in the Western Pacific participated in Operation Boat People, a mission conducted to rescue Vietnamese refugees off the coast of Vietnam. While transiting the South China Sea on October 6, 1980, Blue Ridge rescued 91 refugees from two separate small boats, earning her the Humanitarian Service Medal.
In the 2000s and 2010s, Blue Ridge would participate in numerous annual U.S. and allied training exercises, routine patrols and special operations. Most notably, Operation Tomodachi, providing relief supplies to Japan and allowing the embarked 7th Fleet staff command and control throughout the duration of the operation.
Each year, USS Blue Ridge continues her mission of supporting U.S. 7th Fleet while conducting sustained operation at sea. She has been resilient in fighting through adversity in a region that has evolved over the past 50 years.
Blue Ridge is the oldest operational ship in the Navy, and as the U.S. 7th Fleet command ship, is responsible for patrolling and fostering relationships within the Indo-Asia Pacific Region.
For more news from USS Blue Ridge, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/lcc19/.