USS Blue Ridge staff to participate in cultural exchange after port call

USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and 7th Fleet staff arrived in Manila Wednesday for the US flagship’s first-call on Philippine port since 2016.

The US Embassy in Manila said the Blue Ridge and 7th Fleet, team had “long-standing ties with the Philippines and this port visit offers opportunities to reconnect after several years away.” 

Vice Adm. Phillip Sawyer, commander of the US 7th Fleet, said the crew would continue the tradition of participating in community service and cultural exchange events ashore, including multiple 7th Fleet band engagements and community relations events.

“Our nations are long-standing allies and our navies have worked together for generations,” said Vice Adm. Sawyer. 

Sawyer said: “Our visit to Manila strengthens the bonds between our navies and our shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Blue Ridge commanding officer Capt. Eric Anduze has been slated to meet with Philippine Navy officials and an eventual tour of the flagship to explain the ship’s mission and goals.

Filipino-American sailors onboard will have a chance to reconnect with their heritage during the port visit—among them, Seaman Charmaine Dalusung, who will see the country she was born in for the first time since she left as a child.

“We are very proud to be back in Manila after a long absence,” Anduze said.  

He said: “The Philippines has been an ally of our country for many years, and being able to show our appreciation for that friendship is something we always look forward to. Continuing to foster and maintain our deep relationships here is paramount to what we do in 7th Fleet.”

During the visit, 7th Fleet and Blue Ridge sailors will spend time with local veterans, sharing stories and camaraderie with each other at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center. 

Representatives from both the US and Philippine navies will participate in staff talks aboard the ship, expanding interoperability between the two forces and providing a venue for professional exchanges.

The Blue Ridge recently completed a nearly two-year extended dry-dock within selected restricted availability period and numerous certifications, to ensure she remains ready to provide security in the Indo-Pacific region.  

The Blue Ridge serves under Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7, Task Force 76, the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force.

“I am very excited to come back to my first home,” said Dalusung.  

“It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen the friends and family I grew up with, so I’m extremely grateful to the Navy for giving me the opportunity to reconnect with my roots and culture.” With Nash Maulana

Topics: USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) , 7th Fleet , cultural exchange
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