USS Blue Ridge Completes LOA


U.S. 7th Fleet Command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) completed a two-day Light Off Assessment (LOA) Nov. 9-10 in Yokosuka, Japan.

The evolution, assessed by Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7 with the assistance of Afloat Training Group Western Pacific (ATGWP), checked the ship’s ability to safely operate the engineering plant and light off its boilers following the ship’s maintenance availability period.

“A lot of people set the standard, you could tell the crew trained extensively in preparation for the LOA and it showed in the fire drills and overall condition of the ship,” said Lt. Cmdr. Eric Williams, Commander Task Force 76 training and readiness officer and senior engineering assessor for ESG 7.

During the LOA, assessors verified Navy Occupational Safety and Health (NAVOSH) and engineering programs, checked the ship’s minimum equipment for light off and observed a cold plant main space fire drill. All aspects of the assessment were to verify the ship’s ability to light fires for underway and combat at-sea casualties.

Lt. Jerry Belmonte, the ship’s damage control assistant said the assessors verified the ship was able to demonstrate proper firefighting technique and casualty control actions to combat a fire scenario.

“There was a proper team replacement plan in place and material checks were conducted with zero discrepancies,” said Belmonte.

Sailors in the Engineering department dealt with long, grueling days of drills, repairs and maintenance. Although the evolution called for longer hours and more detailed work, it provided an opportunity for Sailors to learn and grow in the fast paced environment.

Belmonte said countless amount of hours through many months were spent training for the LOA. Many rates were involved including engineers, damage controlman, hull technicians to yeomans, boatwain’s mates and culinary specialists. The ship’s Engineering 09 division made sure all portable damage control equipment was functional. Damage controlman trained constantly to be ready to fight fires, and engineers worked around-the-clock to ensure the engineering plant was up to standards that other ships would only dream about. All spent long arduous hours training and getting ready for the assessment.

Throughout the stressful environment, it was very gratifying to see the progression of the Sailors all working to make this a successful light off assessment,” said Chief Damage Controlman Ernest Thomas, Damage Control Training Team coordinator for Blue Ridge.

The light off assessment was one of the many preparations made for Blue Ridge’s upcoming patrol.

Blue Ridge is commanded by Capt. Daniel Grieco and serves under Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7/Task Force 76, the Navy’s only forward deployed amphibious force. Blue Ridge is the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa Japan with an operations detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

Naval Today Staff , November 15, 2011