The official party salutes as colors are paraded during the USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) change of command ceremony. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Adam K. Thomas)

YOKOSUKA, Japan - U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) held a change of command ceremony on the ship’s main deck Nov. 16.

Capt. Eric J. Anduze relieved Capt. Brett E. Crozier as commanding officer. Crozier served as commanding officer from June 9, 2017 to Nov. 16, 2018.

“For the last year and a half, I have had one of the best jobs in the Navy, in one of the best locations in the world, with my family alongside me,” Crozier said in his farewell remarks. “I couldn’t have asked for anything else… (this) will certainly be one of the highlights of my career.”

Anduze assumes command as the 30th commanding officer of Blue Ridge since the ship's commissioning in Nov. 14, 1970. Upon officially taking command, he highlighted the crew’s accomplishments over the past year as a sign of the quality of team he now leads.

“Over the past month I have observed this crew perform drill after drill, evolution after evolution, and I could not be more impressed with your performance. In less than a year you have transformed Blue Ridge from being torn apart in dry dock to re-establishing her as the Navy’s premier command and control platform,” he said. “I will strive every day to make sure we are ready to meet our mission and the Navy’s interests in the region.”

While in command, Crozier led Blue Ridge through the completion of a 28-month selected restricted availability, encompassing 141,804 man-hours of restoration and upgrades, followed by a successful return to sea earlier this year.

For that, Crozier said he had no one to thank more than the ship’s crew.

“You made my job easy and our goal of getting this ship to sea a reality,” he said. “Despite the fact that 50 percent of the crew had never been to sea before, and 80 percent of us had never been to sea on Blue Ridge, you trained hard, worked long hours, and achieved what many thought was impossible.”

During the ceremony, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet Deputy Commander Capt. Marvin Thompson showcased the crew’s numerous achievements under Crozier.

“I can personally attest that these accomplishments are just a very tip of a very deep iceberg that encompasses all the things a commanding officer deals with each day during his tour,” Thompson said during his keynote remarks. “(Capt. Crozier), you have managed the crew of Blue Ridge with great skill and you have left huge shoes for Eric (Anduze) to fill. Blue Ridge, I am happy to say that you are getting an amazing leader to carry the baton in Capt. Anduze.”

Crozier’s next duty station will be Naval Air Forces Pacific in North Island, Calif.

Anduze, a native of Manati, P.R., graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. He assumes command of Blue Ridge after serving as the executive officer aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).

Blue Ridge is the oldest operational ship in the Navy, and as the U.S. 7th Fleet command ship, is responsible for patrolling and fostering relationships within the Indo-Pacific region.