U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) now holds the honor of being the oldest ship in the U.S. Navy’s active duty fleet, next to USS Constitution, after the decommissioning of the USS Denver (LPD 9) Aug. 14.
Blue Ridge’s keel was laid Feb. 27, 1967, and she was commissioned Nov. 14, 1970. Since 1970 the flagship has had a rich history to include commanding Operations Eagle Pull and Frequent Wind during the Vietnam War, receiving the Humanitarian Service Medal in 1984 for rescuing Vietnamese refugees during Operation Boat People, performing a nine-and-a-half month deployment as flagship for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command during the Persian Gulf War and rushing supplies and relief to Japan during Operation Tomodachi.
To maintain her position as the most capable flagship in the world, Blue Ridge utilizes the most advanced communication satellite and computer technologies available.
As the demands of the mission evolve over the years, so too must Blue Ridge. The ship is constantly updating its equipment to stay a step ahead of its competition.
In 2016 Blue Ridge is scheduled to install a brand new Consolidated Afloat Network Enterprise System (CANES).
The flagship is currently on patrol in the Indo-Asia-Pacific with embarked 7th Fleet staff, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12 and Marines from Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team Pacific.
Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan for 34 years. As the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Robert L. Thomas, Blue Ridge is vital in maintaining partnerships in the 7th Fleet area of operations.