DARWIN, Australia – U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) arrived in Australia’s north coast city of Darwin to take to strengthen Austro-U.S. ties June 29. <br /> <br /> Named after famous natural scientist Charles Darwin, the city is regarded as the gateway to and from Australia and serves as an important strategic base for theater security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. <br /> <br /> “Our Australian friends play a major role in regional security,” said Blue Ridge Operations Officer Lt. Cmdr. James Coker. “Our two nations have a long history of working together to accomplish common goals.”<br /> <br /> While in port, Blue Ridge crew members, embarked 7th Fleet staff and Marines from Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Pacific plan to interact in the local community by attending a parade with Australian navy cadets, interacting with children at a cancer charity organization and providing first-aid training at a youth center.<br /> <br /> “I hope I can inspire someone to take part in the medical profession,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Alexa Orodio, one of the volunteers providing first-aid training. <br /> “I’m proud to be able to represent the U.S. Navy in a positive way.”<br /> <br /> While both nations have similarities, like the English language and driving on the left-hand side of the road, Blue Ridge Sailors and Marines will enjoy experiencing a diverse culture while on liberty.<br /> <br /> “I’m excited to experience the different culture,” said Ship’s Serviceman Seaman Eithan Fisher. “I’ve already made plans to go see three rugby matches.”<br /> <br /> 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.