U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is greeted by Vice Adm. Robert L. Thomas Jr., commander of U.S. 7th Fleet, on the quarterdeck of the flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) during a visit to Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Jan. 21. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua Karsten)

YOKOSUKA, Japan - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., met with U.S. 7th Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Robert L. Thomas aboard the flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) while visiting Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, Jan. 21.

During the visit Rubio also saw demonstrations of Theater Ballistic Missile Defense capabilities aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67) and discussed fleet and regional issues with senior leadership from Naval Forces Japan.

Sen. Rubio discussed fleet operations with Vice Adm. Thomas to gain a better understanding of the 7th Fleet's roles and areas of responsibility. With about 100 ships and submarines, hundreds of aircraft, and more than 48 million square miles (more than 124 million square kilometers) 7th Fleet is the largest of the Navy's numbered fleets.

Sen. Rubio was then able to see a small part of the fleet first hand while visiting the crew of the USS Shiloh. The tour included briefings on the ship's Aegis combat system, vertical launching system and the Mk 45 five-inch gun weapons system. The USS Shiloh visit was a unique opportunity for the Senator to see a ballistic missile defense ship capable of facing and defeating threats in the air, sea, shore, and below the sea.

"I think the visit was wonderful. It gave the Senator and his delegation a good appreciation for not only the mighty Shiloh, but also for the Navy here in the 7th Fleet and in Japan and what we do in the theater," said Capt. Kurush Morris, USS Shiloh commanding officer.

Rubio, who holds a position on the U.S. Committee on Foreign Relations as well as subcommittees on East Asian and Pacific Affairs and Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, had the opportunity to hear what goes on in the Indo-Asia-Pacific directly from the 7th Fleet commander. His discussions with Rear Adm. Terry Kraft, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Japan, focused on regional issues pertaining to forces stationed in Japan.

"I think he left with a positive impression and a good appreciation of not only what the men and women do here in the 7th Fleet and how we interact with our Japanese partners, but also the capabilities of a Ticonderoga class cruiser as good as Shiloh," Capt. Morris added.