DARWIN, Australia - U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) completed a six-day port visit to Australia’s north coast city of Darwin July 5.
While in port, Blue Ridge Sailors, embarked 7th Fleet staff and Marines from Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Pacific interacted with the local community by way of opening the ship for guided tours, engaging Australian navy cadets about navy career opportunities, painting a local women’s shelter, playing softball and rugby, and doing some landscaping at the Royal Darwin Hospital.
“We didn’t really know what to expect, but we had a blast,” said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Sukarno Ikabala, who volunteered to interact with Australian navy cadets. “It was great to see the kids’ eyes glow with anticipation, and I hope this experience helps them better understand what we do and helps them choose the best career path for themselves.”
Although some service members participated in community service events, some checked out the local cultural customs of Australian food and sports.
“I never thought I would have this golden opportunity to visit Darwin,” said Logistics Specialist Seaman Nicholas Lange. “The Australians were very welcoming. They taught me how to play rugby and treated me to a kangaroo burger afterwards, showcasing their true hospitality.”
Blue Ridge port calls present an opportunity to promote peace and stability in the south Indo-Asia-Pacific region, demonstrate commitment to regional partners and foster growing relationships.
Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan for nearly 34 years. As the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Scott H. Swift, Blue Ridge is vital in forging partnerships in the 7th Fleet area of operations.