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Blue Ridge Excels During Ultra Sustainment Assessment

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070908-04
Release Date: 9/8/2007 1:19:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Hewitt, USS Blue Ridge Public Affairs

USS BLUE RIDGE, At Sea (NNS) -- During a regularly scheduled deployment, USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) completed a three-day assessment which appraised the ship’s self-sustainability and damage control capabilities through a series of drills simulating possible real-world scenarios that Blue Ridge may have to defend itself against one day.

The Unit Level Training Assessment-Sustainment (Ultra-S), completed Sept. 3, was designed to test the crew’s knowledge base and response times to certain dangerous evolutions, including a General Quarters drill, which simulates a ship-wide crisis.

Blue Ridge’s Ultra-S was conducted by Afloat Training Group (ATG) Western Pacific, who reviewed and graded several areas of shipboard operation that included its medical, combat systems, engineering, and damage control capabilities.

A main part of the process that ATG completes for Ultra-S is to observe Blue Ridge’s Damage Control Training Team (DCTT) which itself observes the crew’s proficiency in its drills and training.

Senior Chief Damage Controlman (SW) Wesley Lairson is the ship’s overall DCTT coordinator and worked closely with ATG during the Ultra-S evaluation.

“Just like with any drill or evolution we were a little apprehensive about ATG coming on board,” he said. “We gained a lot during Ultra-S and every time we conduct something like this there are lessons learned.
“That said though, by the scores we received, we did an excellent job. All of the crew performed in a superior manner and really stepped up on game day,” Lairson added. “I’m very proud to work with the professionals on board here.”

One of Blue Ridge’s Sailors who performed in that professional manner was Ship’s Serviceman 3rd Class (SW) Rebecca Nichols, who was the ship’s store supervisor as well as being the locker leader for duty section one's Inport Emergency Team (IET). Her responsibilities included making sure that everyone got where they needed to go, keeping IET organized and focused, and maintaining communications between herself, the scene, and the fire marshal.

“This was a very complicated drill to complete,” she said. “The IET spent a lot of liberty time in the ports drilling, some times all day in preparation for ATG and Ultra-S. In the end though, it was all worth it and we did an outstanding and excellent job in just about everything we did.”

Blue Ridge’s Commanding Officer, Capt. David A. Lausman was extremely proud of his crew’s showing during Ultra-S and grateful to ATG for their review, which helped the ship’s objective of maintaining a mission-ready communications platform.

“It is very gratifying to have an inspection team come aboard and confirm something that we already were confident of,” he said. “We really appreciate the work that ATG completed for USS Blue Ridge and our critical ability to self-assess.”

Blue Ridge is commanded by Capt. David A. Lausman and serves under Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7/Task Force 76, the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force. Blue Ridge is the flagship for Commander, 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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