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USS Blue Ridge Returns to Manila After Five Years

27 June 2024

From Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Toi Williams

MANILA, Philippines — U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and embarked 7th Fleet staff arrived in Manila, Republic of the Philippines on June 18, 2024 for the ship’s first visit to the capital since March 2019.

MANILA, Philippines – Sailors parade the colors during a reception aboard the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), June 20, 2024. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Belen Saldana)
MANILA, Philippines – Sailors parade the colors during a reception aboard the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), June 20, 2024. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Belen Saldana)
MANILA, Philippines – Sailors parade the colors during a reception aboard the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), June 20, 2024. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Belen Saldana)
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MANILA, Philippines – Sailors parade the colors during a reception aboard the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), June 20, 2024. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Belen Saldana)
Photo By: Petty Officer 2nd Class Belen Sa
VIRIN: 240614-N-FA353-1025


The U.S. Navy shares a longstanding alliance with the Philippines. In 1951, the two countries signed the Mutual Defense Treaty, vowing support and mutual defense against emergent threats to maintain freedom of the seas. The port visit acts to foster long standing U.S.- Philippine ties and fortify relations with government officials and local leaders.

During the visit, Vice Adm. Fred Kacher, Commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet, engaged with Hon. MaryKay Carlson, the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, Rear Adm. Alfonso Torres Jr., commander of the Armed Forces Western Command, Rear Adm. Renato David, commander of the Philippine Fleet and other key-leaders from the Philippines. Capt. Nicholas DeLeo, commanding officer, USS Blue Ridge, spoke with community leaders, continuing to foster relationships with the Philippines. Blue Ridge also hosted distinguished visitors during a ‘Big Top' event and conducted ship tours.

“The United States and Philippine’s diplomatic relationships has been steadfast for almost eight decades due to our shared democratic values, mutual interests, and cultural ties,” said DeLeo. “This port visit allows the crew to return the hospitality and support the Filipino people always provide, through cultural exchange and engaging with the locals.”

MANILA, Philippines (June 20, 2024) – The Honorable MaryKay Carlson, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines and Vice Adm. Fred Kacher, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, greet guests as they arrive for a big top reception aboard U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), June 20, 2024. U.S. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Belen Saldana)
MANILA, Philippines (June 20, 2024) – The Honorable MaryKay Carlson, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines and Vice Adm. Fred Kacher, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, greet guests as they arrive for a big top reception aboard U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), June 20, 2024. U.S. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Belen Saldana)
MANILA, Philippines (June 20, 2024) – The Honorable MaryKay Carlson, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines and Vice Adm. Fred Kacher, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, greet guests as they arrive for a big top reception aboard U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), June 20, 2024. U.S. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Belen Saldana)
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MANILA, Philippines (June 20, 2024) – The Honorable MaryKay Carlson, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines and Vice Adm. Fred Kacher, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, greet guests as they arrive for a big top reception aboard U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), June 20, 2024. U.S. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Belen Saldana)
Photo By: Petty Officer 2nd Class Belen Saldana
VIRIN: 240614-N-FA353-1012


During the port visit, the embarked crew explored the country’s rich culture through organized events, sightseeing on liberty, and serving the local community.

Blue Ridge’s Command Religious Ministries Services organized three community relations events, providing service members the opportunity to act as United States ambassadors and authentically experience a new culture.

“Our Sailors were ecstatic to see the beautiful country and to partner with vital organizations that serve and sacrifice for those in need,” said Lt. Michael Bowen, chaplain of the Blue Ridge. “Community volunteer projects allow us to show the people of the Philippines that we value and honor the important relationship between our two countries.”

Service members volunteered at a soup kitchen by preparing and serving meals to locals, while another group organized a community center for Project Pearl, a non-profit organization aiming to end poverty and aide underserved communities. In addition, USS Blue Ridge Sailors formed a team and competed in a friendly soccer match.

“At the Project Pearl COMREL, we served meals to the less fortunate and cleaned up the center, [including] washing chairs, sweeping, dusting, washing dishes, and moving building materials for the school under construction outback,” said Logistics Specialist Seaman Angel Carter, a Sailor from USS Blue Ridge. “It was tear-jerking to see the living conditions of the local community, but I was happy to support the organization’s mission to fight against poverty.”

MANILA BAY (June 18, 2024) – Quartermaster 3rd Class Soledh Rivera, from Edinburgh, Texas, searches for contacts aboard the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), June 18. As the 7th Fleet flagship, Blue Ridge is the oldest operational ship in the Navy and routinely operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adam Craft)
MANILA BAY (June 18, 2024) – Quartermaster 3rd Class Soledh Rivera, from Edinburgh, Texas, searches for contacts aboard the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), June 18. As the 7th Fleet flagship, Blue Ridge is the oldest operational ship in the Navy and routinely operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adam Craft)
MANILA BAY (June 18, 2024) – Quartermaster 3rd Class Soledh Rivera, from Edinburgh, Texas, searches for contacts aboard the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), June 18. As the 7th Fleet flagship, Blue Ridge is the oldest operational ship in the Navy and routinely operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adam Craft)
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MANILA BAY (June 18, 2024) – Quartermaster 3rd Class Soledh Rivera, from Edinburgh, Texas, searches for contacts aboard the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), June 18. As the 7th Fleet flagship, Blue Ridge is the oldest operational ship in the Navy and routinely operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adam Craft)
Photo By: Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Craft
VIRIN: 240618-N-ZU848-5573


In addition, Sailors rejuvenated and maximized liberty by participating in Morale, Welfare and Recreation sponsored tours, including Tagaytay sightseeing, Villa Escudero, Pagsanjan Falls and more.

“During the [Pagsanjan Falls] tour, I had the chance to explore the Philippines outside of the bustling city,” said Chief Information Technician Sean Robinson, a Sailor from USS Blue Ridge. “I traveled up the river by boat to see the waterfall, ate authentic Filipino food, and interacted with the families swimming.”

"We could not be more honored to make our first port visit of our summer patrol to Manila with the USS Blue Ridge and our Seventh Fleet Team. Our enduring partnership with the people of the Philippines is deeper and stronger than it has ever been,” said Kacher. “Our Sailors are excited to engage with the Manila community, and I look forward to meeting with my Armed Forces of the Philippines counterparts to discuss our shared commitment to security and stability in this vital and dynamic region.”

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MANILA, Philippines (June 19, 2024) – Sailors assigned to U.S. 7th Fleet Bands’ “Orient Express,” embarked aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), perform in front of a live audience during a port visit in Manila, Philippines, June 19. U.S. 7th Fleet is the Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan M. Breeden)
240619-N-PH222-1043 MANILA, Philippines (June 19, 2024) – Sailors assigned to U.S. 7th Fleet Bands’ “Orient Express,” embarked aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), perform in front of a live audience during a port visit in Manila, Philippines, June 19. U.S. 7th Fleet is the Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan M. Breeden)
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MANILA, Philippines (June 19, 2024) – Sailors assigned to U.S. 7th Fleet Bands’ “Orient Express,” embarked aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), perform in front of a live audience during a port visit in Manila, Philippines, June 19. U.S. 7th Fleet is the Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan M. Breeden)
240619-N-PH222-1043
240619-N-PH222-1043 MANILA, Philippines (June 19, 2024) – Sailors assigned to U.S. 7th Fleet Bands’ “Orient Express,” embarked aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), perform in front of a live audience during a port visit in Manila, Philippines, June 19. U.S. 7th Fleet is the Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan M. Breeden)
Photo By: Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Breeden
VIRIN: 240619-N-PH222-1043


The countries’ connection goes beyond formal agreements. Filipinos compose one of the largest Asian groups serving in the U.S. Navy, whose presence is felt through their solidarity, perseverance, and pride in their heritage.

As the 7th Fleet flag ship, USS Blue Ridge is the oldest operational ship in the Navy and routinely operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region."

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