SHANGHAI – The U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) departed Shanghai after a regularly scheduled port visit May 10 during its 2016 patrol season.
Shanghai marked Blue Ridge’s ninth port-visit of its patrol, including stops in the Philippines, India, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka.
The Blue Ridge team consisting of more than 900 members, including embarked 7th Fleet staff, Marines from Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team Pacific (FASTPAC) and the “Golden Falcons” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12 is currently on patrol strengthening and fostering relationships in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.
U.S. and People’s Liberation Army (Navy) ((PLA(N)) Sailors volunteered their time during a community service project for Shanghai’s School for the Blind. Additionally, U.S. and PLA(N) Sailors competed in a friendly inter-navy basketball game that both sides eagerly anticipated and enjoyed.
“In an effort to continue to strengthen the relationship between our two nations, a simple game of basketball can do so much,” said Ship’s Servicemen 2nd Jaquan Hartford, Blue Ridges’ team captain. “Realizing that we had a style of play that our counterparts hadn’t yet been exposed to, we integrated the teams, humbling our Sailors with the ability to teach, providing our new friends with a better feel for our style of play.”
“During our game with our naval counterparts, there was a mutual found respect between both teams. It was a great experience and I think each team gained something positive from the experience.”
Blue Ridge and Commander 7th Fleet Staff Sailors also took the opportunity to take part in mutual ship tours with the PLA(N)’s Lanzhou destroyer Xi’an (DDG 153).
“I had a great time visiting the PLA(N) ship,” said Boatswain’s Mate 2nd James Goodin. “I enjoyed meeting and learning from our counterparts in the PLA(N) as well as seeing the differences in our ships’ designs.”
“It was an enjoyable tour,” continued Goodin. “It was good seeing our two nations coming together, allowing our crews to meet and learn from one another.”
“The crew acted professionally in all of our various cultural engagements,” said Lt.j.g. Eugene Yip. “Shanghai is an exciting city with an interesting culture and people, and I hope I get the chance to come back.”
Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan for 36 years. As the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, Blue Ridge is vital in maintaining partnerships in the 7th Fleet area of operations.