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    A Lost Piece of History

    YOKOSUKA, KANAGAWA, JAPAN

    12.28.2021

    Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Matt Hall 

    USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19)

    YOKOSUKA, Japan – Up the brow, across the quarterdeck and into the ceremonial passageway of U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), an old ship’s helm wheel hangs without any indication to its origin or history. Its presence is an enigma to the Sailors serving aboard the Navy’s oldest operational warship.

    The wheel, constructed of well-maintained, darkly lacquered wood and sparkling brass, was originally used to steer the second American warship to bear the name “Blue Ridge,” USS Blue Ridge (AGC 2), an Appalachian-Class amphibious force flagship commissioned by the Navy, September 27, 1943.

    AGC 2 became the flagship for Rear Admiral Daniel E. Barbey, a Navy Cross and Legion of Merit recipient and commander of VII Amphibious Force, U.S. 7th Fleet, on Christmas Eve, 1943. The ship would serve in the waters surrounding Papua New Guinea until October 13, 1944, when she steamed north to take part in the liberation of the Philippine Islands.

    The battle for the Philippines began on October 20, 1944. That morning, Blue Ridge served as command ship for troops storming the beaches at Leyte, Philippines, and provided continual support of the amphibious assault landings for six days.

    When Supreme Allied Commander in the Pacific, General Douglas MacArthur, waded ashore at Leyte on October 20, he fulfilled a promise he had made nearly two years prior after his retreat from the islands.

    “People of the Philippines: I have returned,” said MacArthur that morning. “By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil—soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples. We have come dedicated and committed to the task of destroying every vestige of enemy control over your daily lives, and of restoring upon a foundation of indestructible strength, the liberties of your people.”
    The battle for the Philippines would rage until the end of the war, when on August 15, 1945, the Empire of Japan surrendered and World War II would come to a definitive, resounding end.

    Blue Ridge would continue to serve throughout the Indo-Pacific until March 14, 1947, when she was decommissioned and put into the reserve fleet. She would remain there until January 1, 1960, when her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register and the ship was sold for scrap.

    Ten years later, on November 14, 1970, USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) would be commissioned as the third ship to carry the name “Blue Ridge.” She has served continually for 51 years and is currently forward-deployed at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan.

    The only remaining piece of AGC 2 would be her helm wheel, and in time it has found its way to a lone bulkhead in the ceremonial passageway of the 7th Fleet flagship. Its placement there is a testament not only to the unyielding bravery of the Sailors that served aboard each of her namesakes, but to the Marines, Soldiers, Airmen and civilian volunteers ashore that gave their lives in the largest conflict the world has ever seen. AGC 2 supported each of them as a command and control ship during the Second World War and the liberation of the Philippines.

    Today’s Blue Ridge carries on her predecessor’s role as an Admiral’s flagship and as a fleet command and control ship. Blue Ridge’s role within 7th Fleet is unique to the contemporary U.S. Navy. Blue Ridge serves as one of two operating fleet flagships.

    Other than her helm, another physical reminder of AGC 2 and her service to her country sits outside the skin of Blue Ridge, on the port quarterdeck, where a plaque is mounted to the bulkhead. Embossed upon it is a list of campaigns and missions that AGC took part in during and after the Second World War. It is one more solemn reminder of Blue Ridge’s history and her heritage as a command and control flagship in the Indo-Pacific region.

    A quote on the plaque by the 35th President of the United States John F. Kennedy reads, “Let every nation know that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, support any friend or oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty.”

    Blue Ridge is the oldest operational ship in the Navy, and as 7th Fleet command ship, is responsible for patrolling and fostering relationships within the Indo-Pacific region.

    For more news from USS Blue Ridge, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/lcc19/.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 12.28.2021
    Date Posted: 12.30.2021 23:24
    Story ID: 412199
    Location: YOKOSUKA, KANAGAWA, JP 

    Web Views: 102
    Downloads: 0

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