Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin thanks Indian Flag Officer of Naval Aviation and Flag Officer Goa Area, Rear Adm. Puneet Kumar Bahl, for his hospitality during an office call in Goa. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Indra Bosko)

GOA, India - U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) arrived in Goa, India, April 8 for a regularly scheduled port visit, promoting friendships and engagements with theater partners in the region.

The Blue Ridge team consisting of more than 900 members, including embarked 7th Fleet staff, Marines from Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team Pacific (FASTPAC) and the “Golden Falcons” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12 is currently on patrol within the 7th Fleet area of operations, strengthening and fostering relationships in the Indo-Asia- Pacific.

“After completing a highly successful port visit in Mumbai, India, the objective of this next visit is to further engage and to continue to strengthen our relationships with our Indian Navy counterparts and local authorities,” said Lt. Daniel Kohlbeck, Blue Ridge’s operations officer. “Anytime we can take advantage of the opportunity to strengthen friendships with a country that shares the same democratic ideals as the U.S., is a step in the right direction.”

During the ship’s visit, Sailors and Marines will volunteer their time in the local community with community service events, like working with Harama School, an organization that teaches under privileged children hygiene and provides basic primary education and playing sports with students at Smt. Parvatibai Chowgule College of Arts and Science.

Blue Ridge last made a visit to Goa in February 2005, marking the 7th Fleet flagship’s first visit to the state.

“Having had the chance to sail with the Indian Navy some years ago by way of various exercises, I remain amazed at the professionalism of their Navy,” continued Kohlbeck. “We are excited about these engagements. Promoting interoperability and cooperation between our two countries is huge, as we both work to protect the shared ideals we hold dear.”

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 vital in maintaining partnerships in the 7th Fleet area of operations.