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U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) transits in the South China Sea in 2014. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Phillip Pavlovich)

Manila, March 13, 2019 — U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and embarked 7th Fleet staff arrived in Manila today for the ship’s first port visit to the Philippines since 2016.

The Blue Ridge and 7th Fleet team have longstanding ties with the Philippines and this port visit offers opportunities to reconnect after several years away. The crew will 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 longstanding allies and our navies have worked together for generations,” said Vice Adm. Phillip Sawyer, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet. “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 will meet with Philippine Navy officials and distinguished visitors for a tour of the flagship to explain the ship’s mission and goals.

“We are very proud to be back in Manila after a long absence,” Anduze 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 U.S. and Philippine navies will participate in staff talks aboard the ship, expanding interoperability between the two forces and providing a venue for professional exchanges.

Many Filipino-American sailors will have a chance to reconnect with their heritage during the port visit. One of these sailors, Seaman Charmaine Dalusung, will see the country she was born in for the first time since she was a child.

“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.”

The Blue Ridge recently completed a nearly two-year extended dry-dock 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.

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