USS Blue Ridge Stays At Sea Due to COVID-19 Pandemic
The crew of the U.S. 7th Fleet command ship USS Blue Ridge hit a new record for time under way. The ship and her crew have spent 65 consecutive days at sea and counting, an unusual length of time for a ship well-known for frequent port visits.
Blue Ridge’s previous record of 64 days was set during the Vietnam War. She left port on April 5, 1972 and stayed at sea in and around the Gulf of Tonkin until June 2, when she moored in the Philippines.
“This is an amazing accomplishment for the Blue Ridge, especially being the Navy’s oldest operational warship and approaching her 50th year of service,” said Blue Ridge commanding officer Capt. Craig C. Sicola. “As I told the crew, the record is only a number, but their hard work and resiliency has been truly impressive and that’s what really matters. These times are uniquely challenging for the entire world, but it takes an extremely dedicated crew to maintain this old of a ship at sea for this long.”
The ship and her crew have remained at sea conducting operations during this challenging pandemic, providing new support for 7th Fleet command and control.
“From the beginning of this pandemic and our extended underway period, our focus has been on how to adapt to this new enemy and maintain our ability to stay in the fight,” said Sicola. “It is that mental focus that has kept our sailors engaged, even with great personal sacrifice and stress."
To stay operationally ready, Blue Ridge’s crew has used the extended time at sea to maintain training, operational standards and capability. “The crew has been amazing,” said Sicola. “I realize every day how tough it has been, especially for some who have lost loved ones, or who have families that have endured challenging events during this pandemic. Even through all that, their heads are high and they have taken great pride in Blue Ridge’s historic underway during her 50th year of service.”
Blue Ridge is the oldest operational ship in the Navy, and as 7th Fleet's command ship, she normally serves a diplomatic mission fostering relationships among allies and partners in the Western Pacific.