USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) file photo. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Kevin A. Flinn)

SINGAPORE - The U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) arrived in Singapore for a regularly scheduled port visit, March 13, strengthening multilateral relationships in the region.

The Blue Ridge team consists of more than 900 members, including embarked 7th Fleet staff, Marines from Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Pacific (FASTPAC) and the “Golden Falcons” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12.

Sailors will participate in four different community service projects, conduct embassy security training and take the time to experience the local culture and food during the visit.

“It’s important for our Sailors to participate in community projects, not only because it allows them to experience a little bit of the culture, but it also provides them with a way to give back,” said Blue Ridge Command Master Chief, Charles F. Ziervogel. “Volunteering provides the best way to get to know people. If you really want to get to know someone, you work beside them.”

FASTPAC Marines will conduct an engagement with the U.S. Embassy Singapore Department of State Security, focusing on improving embassy reinforcement plans. Additionally, FASTPAC will provide combat life saver, rifle and pistol marksmanship training.

“By explaining and demonstrating FASTPAC’s capabilities, we are reminding those responsible for the security of our diplomatic posts throughout the 7th Fleet area of operations that FASTPAC is prepared to effectively react to a wide array of situations if called upon,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Buch. “Joint training exercises provide us with an opportunity to build relationships and enhance our ability to effectively work together.”

During downtime in port, some Sailors will also take advantage of the opportunity to participate in Home Hospitality, a program hosted by the American Association of Singapore. This program offers various forms of hospitality, where local families volunteer to provide a home cooked meal, arrange a poolside party or take Sailors on a tour of Singapore.

“The Home Hospitality program is culturally beneficial to both the Sailors and the families hosting them,” said Religious Programs Specialist 1st Class Brian Jewell, Blue Ridge’s community service coordinator. “It gives Sailors the opportunity to experience local customs and provides host families with an avenue to learn more about the U.S. military.”

“Any effort toward the goal of forging a stronger relationship, even through small interactions and engagements, better ensures the safety and security in the 7th Fleet area of operations,” said Ziervogel. “The COMRELS and foreign engagements are crucial to building relationships, but our presence shows that we care about these countries and that we are there to assist when necessary.”

Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, for 36 years. As the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, Blue Ridge is committed to strengthening and fostering relationships within the Indo-Asia Pacific region.