Sailors aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) watch the sunrise as the ship arrives in Singapore for a port visit. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Liz Dunagan)

SINGAPORE - The U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and embarked staff arrived in Singapore, April 30, to emphasize the U.S. Navy's commitment to building and strengthening relationships in the Indo-Asia Pacific region.

The Blue Ridge team consists of more than 900 crew members including embarked U.S. 7th Fleet staff, the "Golden Falcons" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12 and Marines from Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Pacific.

While in port, Blue Ridge crew and U.S. 7th Fleet staff members will volunteer as part of community service projects, participate in friendly sports competitions with members of the Republic of Singapore Navy, and explore everything Singapore has to offer strengthening relationships with the people.

"Maintaining good working relationships is vital," said Chief Legalman Zandee Galang, Blue Ridge's legal officer. "Breaking down the cultural barriers is essential to our relationships with our allies, and we accomplish this by contributing our time and efforts through community service events and being open to learning about the different cultural settings."

"I love having the opportunity to play sports with other navies," said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Christopher Dugas, sports organizer for Blue Ridge's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) program. "It really breaks down the language barrier and brings two navies together. Everyone knows the rules when playing, and we all can understand each other because of it. These experiences make being forward deployed amazing."

Blue Ridge's crew and U.S. 7th Fleet staff members will take advantage of the opportunity to experience the unique melting pot of Singapore by touring landmarks and trying new foods through Blue Ridge's MWR program.

"There is so much to see and do in Singapore," said Chief Personnel Specialist Achilles Amante, Blue Ridge's personnel officer. "Getting out and seeing something new allows our Sailors to grow and really embrace different walks of life. Our MWR program on board is excellent at providing cultural opportunities."

Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to the Yokosuka, Japan, region for 35 years and is currently on patrol, strengthening and fostering relationships within the Indo-Asia Pacific region.