7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge undocks

US Navy’s forward-deployed command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) completed her dry dock maintenance, undocking and mooring pierside at Fleet Activities Yokosuka on January 21.

Blue Ridge is the oldest operational US Navy ship and this dry-docking period extended her life by approximately 20-plus years.

During the 19-month EDSRA, the US 7th Fleet flagship underwent major structural modifications and upgrades across a multitude of systems.

“Completing this dry dock period is a huge deal,” said Capt. Brett E. Crozier, Blue Ridge commanding officer. “It is an important part of a greater legacy for both the Blue Ridge and the US Navy, and I would like to especially thank the crew, family members, ship’s repair force workers, and others who have had a hand in modernizing Blue Ridge.”

During the EDSRA, Blue Ridge received numerous upgrades, including installation of the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) computer system, modernization of the ship’s engineering plant, and refurbishment of the main condenser and ventilation systems. American and Japanese civilian contractors performed these repairs at Naval Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF JRMC) Yokosuka.

Work completed totaled more than 120,000 man days from civilian workers. Augmenting that was approximately 110,000 man days from Blue Ridge Sailors since the availability began.

However, the maintenance and repair work aboard Blue Ridge is not yet complete. While moored pierside, the ship’s sailors and civilian workers will continue to work side-by-side for further engineering and electrical plant upgrades, as well as improvements to living quarters. All improvements made will assist Blue Ridge in returning to its primary role of providing command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) support to the US 7th Fleet commander and staff.

“After about two years in the yards spent on crucial repairs and improvements, it’s the crew’s turn to get ready to get back on patrol and return to our mission once again,” Crozier said.

Sailors will now also push through an extensive training and qualifications period, including search and rescue, navigation and seamanship, engineering proficiency, and damage control efforts. The crew will complete all training evolutions before returning to a mission-ready status.

Blue Ridge commissioned Nov. 14, 1970, making it the oldest operational ship in the Navy. Several weeks ago, the crew celebrated the ship’s 47th year in service. Plans are for the 7th Fleet Flagship to stay in active service for another 20-plus years.