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USS Blue Ridge, 7th Fleet Enjoy Singapore Visit

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050314-06
Release Date: 3/14/2005 12:55:00 PM

By Journalist Seaman Apprentice Marc Rockwell-Pate, USS Blue Ridge Public Affairs

SINGAPORE (NNS) -- USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and the embarked U.S. 7th Fleet staff departed Singapore March 11 after a four-day port visit.

During their visit to "the Lion City," Sailors and Marines donated time to a local charity, toured attractions, and enjoyed the cuisine and shopping of this multicultural city.

"The best part of the port visit was the variety of cultures," said Aerographer's Mate Airman Keith Mitchell, of Fort Walton Beach, Fla. "I had the opportunity to experience many different types of food from various places around the world, and they were all great."

The 7th Fleet band performed an outdoor public concert at Sentosa Island Park during the visit. Sentosa Island is locally known as 'pleasure island,' and it attracts millions of visitors each year. The island is famous for sandy white beaches, tropical fish, flora and fauna, historical enclaves and adventure theme parks.

"There is something exciting and rewarding about performing an outdoor concert," said Musician 2nd Class Tommy Horner from Pittsburgh. "The crowd is really appreciative."

Sailors and Marines visited beaches, lagoons and Asia's largest underwater aquarium on excursions organized by the ship's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) department.

"The island was so clean, there was beautiful weather and there were nice people. Everything put together made for a great atmosphere," said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 3rd Class (SW) Rena Curtis, of Fernandina Beach, Fla. "There was one part of the tour where they had pink dolphins in a lagoon doing a show. It was awesome. The whole tour was spectacular."

One Blue Ridge tour group waited for the sun to go down and enjoyed an exciting night safari. Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Caleb Korrell, of Cheyenne, Colo., ventured into the darkness and saw Singapore's wildlife.

"The best part of the tour was how close and how beautiful the animals were," said Korrell. "The whole time I was only about 40 feet away from the animals. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and I am very happy that I did it."

While many Sailors and Marines enjoyed the hospitality, culture and sightseeing in Singapore, there was a group who decided to demonstrate the charitable and hard-working side of the Blue Ridge and 7th Fleet team. A group of about 30 volunteers spent a day in the sun doing much-needed yard work at The Children's Society, a school for less fortunate children.

"Being able to give back to the children and the community really makes me feel good," said Lt. Thomas Vago, of Fairbanks, Alaska. "I love to see the results after we are done with a community project like this, but it is the hard work that I enjoy the most. It's really a good relaxation tool and helps me relieve stress."

After four days of immersing themselves in the many cultures of Singapore and lending a hand to the local community, the Sailors and Marines had to leave the welcoming city and already look forward to future visits.

"It was a great experience to explore Singapore," said Curtis. "Everything about the place was amazing, and I hope I can come back to see what else Singapore has to offer soon."

Blue Ridge, an amphibious command and control ship, is the command ship of the U.S. 7th Fleet.

Commanded by Capt. J. Stephen Maynard, of Kettering, Ohio, Blue Ridge supports a variety of missions by providing a robust communications suite to allow the 7th Fleet Commander, Vice Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, and his embarked staff, to provide guidance and direction to U.S. Naval Forces in the region.

Blue Ridge is forward-deployed to the Western Pacific and operates out of Yokosuka, Japan.

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