YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- More than 1,200 Sailors and Marines from USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), embarked 7th Fleet staff, and Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Pacific (FASTPAC) returned to Yokosuka, Japan, Nov. 19, completing a two-month deployment throughout the Pacific Ocean.
During the deployment, Blue Ridge transited throughout the 7th Fleet area of responsibility and made port visits to Korea, Guam, New Caledonia, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and Vietnam.
"This was a very successful deployment," said Capt. Thom W. Burke, Blue Ridge's commanding officer. "We were able to visit several countries, participate in several exercises, and strengthen our relationships with our friends throughout the region."
The 2009 Fall Deployment, Burke's last underway as commanding officer, saw the 7th Fleet command ship foster friendships with locals, participate in community outreach projects, and enjoy all the different countries had to offer.
"As a command ship, our job is to run the fleet, and to develop and strengthen relationships with our partners in the region," Burke said. "This deployment was a terrific opportunity to do just that. I'm extremely proud of the crew's hard work over these past nine weeks. This is definitely a bittersweet homecoming for me because it means the end of my tour on board Blue Ridge."
In addition to making port visits, Blue Ridge also participated in key operational engagements with other countries' navies, including a passing exercise (PASSEX) with the French Navy, and the yearly, combined-training exercise with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, ANNUALEX 21G, both of which sought to foster interoperability and teamwork between the U.S. Navy and other countries' naval forces.
Blue Ridge serves under commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 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.
For more news from USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), visit www.navy.mil/local/lcc19/.