USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) prepares to arrive in Busan for a port visit March 3. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Jared Harral)

BUSAN, Republic of Korea - U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and embarked 7th Fleet staff personnel arrived in Busan, Republic of Korea for a port visit March 3.

Blue Ridge is currently on its first patrol of the year, strengthening relationships with U.S. allies and partner nations while providing advanced communication capabilities and supporting Theater Security Cooperation across the Indo-Asia Pacific region.

"This is my first foreign port and I'm really excited to explore Busan," said Hull Technician Fireman Doniece Williams. "I like the thought of traveling the world and being immersed in different cultures."

While in port, service members will have an opportunity to participate in a basketball and soccer sports exchange with Republic of Korea Navy partners. Additionally, Sailors will have an opportunity to explore South Korea on tours sponsored by Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

"Our visit to Busan is a wonderful opportunity for our Sailors to make a lasting impression on our friends here," said Blue Ridge Chaplain, Lt. Anthony Stallings. "It provides them with a chance to interact with the local community on a personal level, leaving an impact that will last a very long time."

Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan for 34 years. As the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Robert L. Thomas, Blue Ridge is vital in maintaining partnerships in the 7th Fleet area of operations.