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USS Blue Ridge Celebrates 35 Years of Honorable Naval Service

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051122-15
Release Date: 11/22/2005 10:00:00 PM

From USS Blue Ridge Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) celebrated its 35th birthday Nov. 14 with a cake-cutting ceremony and a special meal of steak and lobster on the mess decks.

Blue Ridge Commanding Officer Capt. Jeff Bartkoski addressed the crew and shared some historical Blue Ridge trivia peppered with tidbits of popular culture from 35 years ago. He also quizzed them on some of the significant moments that have taken place on the decks of the U.S. 7th Fleet command ship.

“The Blue Ridge has a great history, and we also have not stopped moving, either; we are constantly improving our capabilities on a daily basis,” said Bartkoski.

He invited Chief Photographer’s Mate (SW/AW) John Stadelman, whose first and now final tours of duty were on Blue Ridge, to cut the ceremonial cake with Quartermaster 2nd Class (SW) Brissetta Ortiz, who has served aboard Blue Ridge for five years.

Personnel Specialist 3rd Class Beverley Valles said she learned a lot about the ship’s history and was pleased to see the captain interact with the crew instead of give a speech about the history of Blue Ridge.

“I knew that the ship had a lot of history, but I did not know about any of the specific events that took place aboard Blue Ridge,” said Valles. “I also thought it was good that the captain likes to interact with the crew and ask questions about the ship.”

Blue Ridge was commissioned Nov. 14, 1970, at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard as the most sophisticated command and control platform in the Navy at the time. From 1971 until 1979, she operated from San Diego, where she deployed to the western Pacific, earning the Meritorious Unit and Navy Unit commendations for the evacuation of Saigon, Vietnam, in 1975.

Since October 1979, she has been forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, as the flagship of Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. Well suited to support a fleet commander in peacetime and in war, Blue Ridge participates routinely in U.S. and allied training exercises each year with countries throughout the western Pacific and Indian oceans.

Blue Ridge took part in a nine-and-a-half-month deployment as flagship for Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm from August 1990 through May 1991, for which the ship earned another Navy Unit Commendation.

Blue Ridge frequently makes port calls throughout the western Pacific and Indian oceans, including Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia.

Blue Ridge has also been cited for rescuing refugees and merchant vessels in need. The ship continuously upgrades command-and-control facilities, war-fighting capabilities and methods of meeting the high visibility requirements of a fleet flagship.

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