By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeff Troutman
WEST PORT, Malaysia – U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) along with embarked 7th Fleet staff, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12 and Marines from Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team Pacific departed West Port following a four-day visit, May 22, strengthening the maritime relationship between the U.S. and Malaysia.
While in port, Sailors and Marines hosted guided ship tours, faced the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) in a friendly sports competition and enjoyed several cultural tours hosted by Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
The Kuala Lumpur American Sailors Social (KLASS) provided several crewmembers opportunities to experience a unique side of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as a way to thank them for their military service.
“We had a great time with the families, eating local Malaysian food and chatting about our life in the military and their life in a foreign country,” said Ship’s Serviceman 3rd Class Rooben Arcega. “Many of them were former U.S. military members, so there was an immediate sense of camaraderie and understanding.”
Additionally, Blue Ridge fielded soccer and volleyball teams to participate in friendly matchups with sailors from the RMN.
“It was amazing to see how the RMN operates outside of a military capacity and interact with them in a friendly environment, because it shows we care about our partnership,” said Chief Damage Controlman Andrae Sutherland, who plays right wing for the Blue Ridge/7th Fleet soccer team. “I think we made a great impression on one another, and it was a great experience to empower each other in such a positive way.”
As the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet Vice Adm. Robert L. Thomas, Blue Ridge has been forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan region for 34 years, strengthening allied ties through community service projects and conducting joint military exercises with regional nations.