U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and embarked 7th Fleet staff departed Busan, Republic of Korea Aug. 30 after conducting joint exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2014 (UFG 14) with the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy during a 17-day port visit.
The exercise enhances combat readiness and interoperability by utilizing cooperative training and engagement between ROK and U.S. forces in the region.
“UFG 14 was the first use of a combined ROK-U.S. Naval Component Commander (NCC) staff,” said Capt. Chris Budde, UFG 14 Combined Maritime Operations Center (CMOC) director. “The CMOC concept exceeded all expectations by significantly improving the effectiveness of the navy component in the fight and further cemented the ROK-U.S. alliance.”
During the visit, Sailors enjoyed cultural tours sponsored by Morale, Welfare and Recreation, participated in community service engagements with locals and competed in friendly sports matches with the ROK navy.
Blue Ridge welcomed aboard members of the ROK Navy to take guided tours of the ship, and in turn, Blue Ridge Sailors were given tours of the Korean guided missile destroyer, Sejong the Great (DDG-993), the ROK flagship.
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.