KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia - U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) arrived in Kota Kinabalu for a port visit April 11, its second visit to Malaysia since joining the LIMA exhibition in Langkawi last month.
The visit reflects more than 60 years of U.S.-Malaysian relations and a strong navy-to-navy partnership. Several U.S. Navy ships visit ports in Malaysia each year. U.S. Navy and RMN sailors train together during exercises like Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), Maritime Training Activity Malaysia, and Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT). Recently, the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) sent its first warship to participate in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2018.
While Blue Ridge visits Kota Kinabalu for the first time since 2011, the annual Pacific Partnership mission continues further south in Kuching, and also on the island of Borneo, with USNS Fall River (T-EPF 4) and embarked Sailors.
“These visits and engagements we do throughout the year are tremendous opportunities to strengthen our partnership with the Royal Malaysian Navy," said Rear Adm. Ted LeClair, deputy commander U.S. 7th Fleet. “We're looking forward to seeing more of Malaysia, after a great port visit to Langkawi, and re-affirming our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific."
During the visit, 7th Fleet staff will have professional exchanges with counterparts from the Royal Malaysian Navy, while the crew will have opportunities to explore the area during tours and community relations projects. Sailors are offered the opportunity to spend time playing soccer with local children and volunteering at the Seri Mengasih Center for individuals whose lives are affected by intellectual and developmental disabilities. The 7th Fleet Band will play several public concerts.
“A large majority of our crew have not visited Kota Kinabalu before, so my team is excited to enjoy time ashore in a new port and to show local citizens here a little bit about our commitment to regional security," said Capt. Eric Anduze, Blue Ridge's commanding officer. “As a goodwill port visit, we look forward to building relationships, learning from one another, and experiencing the local culture.”
As 7th Fleet’s flagship, Blue Ridge provides a mobile command and control capability throughout the Indo-Pacific. Blue Ridge is commanded by Capt. Eric Anduze and serves under Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7/Task Force 76, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force.