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Blue Ridge Strengthens Partnership with Indonesia

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070315-08
Release Date: 3/15/2007 7:30:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Charles T. Green, USS Blue Ridge Public Affairs

JAKARTA, Indonesia (NNS) -- USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and embarked U.S. 7th Fleet Sailors and Marines visited Jakarta, Indonesia, March 8-10.

Blue Ridge’s visit marks the first visit of a U.S. Navy ship since July 2006.

“I talked with different individuals who said Jakarta hasn’t had many port visits at all from U.S. Navy ships, not nearly as much as other capital cities within the Southeast Asian region,” Commanding Officer Capt. Jeff Bartkoski said. “This gives us an opportunity to improve discussions of interoperability between [the] Indonesian military and ours.”

Blue Ridge also contributed to disaster relief efforts and ongoing community service work in the area. A considerable amount of Project Handclasp materials including medical supplies, clothes, and toys were donated and delivered during the visit.

Project Handclasp is a San Diego-based charity that receives donated goods that are delivered by Navy ships on a space-available basis to help less fortunate people in Southeast Asia.

“We were able to donate 11 pallets of Project Handclasp materials,” Bartkoski said. “I’m really pleased that the Blue Ridge and U.S. 7th Fleet team continues to strengthen its partnership with neighboring Asian countries through humanitarian efforts and goodwill visits like this.”

The opportunity to explore the areas surrounding Jakarta was limited, but Sailors were able to travel to the Jakarta Bay City area to sample local fare in exotic restaurants and enjoy festive amusements at the Kawasan Wisata Ancol Park.

“I loved Jakarta’s sites and enjoyed an outstanding shrimp dinner at one of their local restaurants,” said Master Chief Electronics Technician (SW) Mary Campbell. “I also bought a miniature, wooden souvenir bicycle for my husband as a keepsake.”

Adventurous Sailors sampled the rollercoaster rides and other carnival spectacles provided by Jaya Ancol’s amusement park.

“It was inexpensive and the people there were very outgoing and friendly,” said Engineman 3rd Class Christian Shields. “One attraction involved a space invaders theme that included flying saucers, robots, and aliens where we played laser tag. It’s a very rare chance to visit Indonesia; I made the best of my time and enjoyed it.”

Additionally, Blue Ridge extended friendly invitations to local media groups and members of the Indonesian military, offering opportunities to exchange ideas during staff talks.

“We had representatives from local television and news media on board to tour the ship,” said Lt. Cmdr. Greg Kuntz, Blue Ridge’s public affairs officer. “We also invited the Indonesian navy personnel to sit down with our officers and discuss future interoperability exercises. It allows us the opportunity to better improve effective communication between both navies and prepare us to work with each other in case of natural disasters.”

Blue Ridge serves under Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7/Task Force (CTF) 76, the Navy’s only forward deployed amphibious force. Blue Ridge is the flagship for U.S. 7th Fleet. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

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