USS Blue Ridge visits Manila anew

March 24, 2012 1:42 am 

By Ben Cal

MANILA, March 23 – The USS Blue Ridge, the flagship of the United States 7th Fleet in the Pacific, arrived here Friday for a four-day goodwill visit.

Manila-based journalists were given the privilege to tour the Blue Ridge Friday.

Since the ship was commissioned on Nov. 14, 1970 in the US Navy, the Blue Ridge has been a frequent Manila visitor – a demonstration of the long-standing friendship between the Philippines and the United States.

Its home base is Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan.

But during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the Blue Ridge was the flagship of the commander of the US Naval Forces Central Command for nine months from August 1990 to April 1991.

As the command ship of the US 7th Fleet, the Blue Ridge is equipped with sophisticated radar and computer system.

It has been participating routinely in US and allied training exercises with countries in Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

It has been involved in disaster relief operations, including the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011.

Aside from its sophisticated computer system on board, the Blue Ridge is armed with the most advanced and sophisticated weapons to protect itself from hostile fire.

One of its weapons is the Phalanx CIWS, an anti-ship missile defense system.

It is a close-in weapon system (CIWS). It consists of a radar-guided 20mm Gatling gun mounted on a swiveling base.

Another weapon carried by the Blue Ridge is the M242 Bushmaster, a chain-fed auto-cannon that can also be fired in semi-automatic.

It is generally used against low flying planes and helicopters. It can fire 180 rounds per minute.

The Blue Ridge is also armed with the BAE Systems Mark 36 Super Rapid Blooming Offboard Chaff, a short-range mortar that launches chaff or infrared decoys from naval vessels to foil anti-ship missiles.

Over one hundred Filipino sailors are on board the USS Blue Ridge.

One of them is Ensign Maria Josefa D. Veloria who hails from Bataan. (PNA) hbc/RBC/utb

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