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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

USS Blue Ridge LCC-19 command and control ship of US 7th fleet in Manila (my photos from the tour)

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It’s my first time to board in a navy ship, I always received an invitation whenever there’s a big ship that docks here in Manila, and I received invites in the past to board that ship with lots of books,a luxury cruise ship, old galleon replica ship, a battle ship and also air craft carrier. I always fail to attend those guided tour and also the chance to see the life of sailors inside the ship, but for this year I gave myself another chance to grab that opportunity to board another ship.

The USS Blue Ridge of the US Navy’s 7th fleet is here in Manila once again, I heard that they dock here every year and the last time was last March 2013. They are here in Manila to continue their historic relationship with their Filipino counterparts through military to military exchanges, tours, receptions and athletic events. Their visit in Manila also strengthens the ties between the US and Philippines navies. Filipino and American sailors will also have a chance to visit their families and friends while they are here in Manila for 4 days. It will be not just for military reasons but their visit is also about cultural exchange (more news here)
USS Blue Ridge is deployed in Yokosuka, Japan, it is the oldest and high tech command and control ship in the planet.

In this generation, their mission now is

”As the Command Ship for Commander, Seventh Fleet, USS Blue Ridge is responsible for providing persistent and redundant command, control, communication, computers and intelligence (C4I) capabilities to Seventh Fleet while supporting Theatre Security Cooperation and Engagement goals, consistent with the Commander's priorities.” (source)
About the US Seventh fleet, they are the largest US Navy forward deployed feet, consists of 80 ships and submarines, 140 aircrafts and approximately 40,000 sailors and marines
The US Seventh fleet is commanded by 3 star Navy Flag officer Vice Admiral Robert Thomas, he started the command last July 2013. The fleet is present in providing security and stability to Indo-Asia Pacific region for 70 years.

photo above is from http://www.navsource.org/archives/10/01/0119.htm


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There are lots of things to cover, but I will focus here my tour around the ship, photos of what’s inside the ship, interview with sailors and also some message from the Vice Admiral.

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USS Blue Ridge LCC-19 is at the port in Pier 15 Manila South Harbor, its my first time to be there too, I’m glad that some travel blogs helped me in getting the right info what jeepney should I ride going to the harbor. All I know is that it is located right beside Manila Hotel.


Here’s the start of my photo story
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I arrived on time for the briefing of a rep. of US Embassy, they arranged the tour and media invite for the USS Blue Ridge. Everyone are required to wear that neon vest just to mark us one of the media guest to board the ship. There are lots of rules but they told us that we can take photos and video during the guided tour but then we are advised not to bring cameras and phones when we get a short visit inside the ship’s command center. It’s the most high tech room ever inside the ship. I heard that they can hack a phone within the ship’s perimeter. So tweeting and texting can be recorded and snooped by the command center, just for protection of the ships location whenever they sail around.
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Then we went inside the port’s office for some more briefing and guidelines – most rules are for the port and not for the ship.
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We waited for some minutes before boarding the ship, we heard that they are having some briefing too and preparing for our arrival..I heard they are a bit nervous.
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We spotted our fellow pinoys waiting at the port area, they are waiting for their family member who are member of the US Navy and onboard at the USS Blue Ridge.
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It was scorching hot that day, me and the rest of the media team didn’t wasted time when we get a closer glimpse of the big ship.


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My panoramic shot of USS Blue Ridge using my iPhone 4
I now wish for a drone with camera so that I can shoot an aerial view of the ship.
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Spotted some sailors above the ship
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One of the pinoy sailors standing outside the ship
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American sailor in civilian clothes exiting the ship..he might be meeting his family at the port area.

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I also spotted some bazaars selling some pinoy made items. I was planning to buy a Coke and some pizza but I heard that the tag prices are in US DOLLARS. One of the media guy said that one hotdog sandwich is priced at $20. whoaaa!
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Sailors can be determined based on their uniform.
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All are on guard
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Our guide for the tour -- Chief Mass Communication Specialist Bleu Moore
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We are no on board USS Blue Ridge…. and here’s a welcome carpet
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Metallic plaque displayed at outside the main door of the ship.
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Photos of Admirals through out the years

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I noticed this near the main door.. there’s this door that leads to the abandon ship equipment and also we can see here the alarm bell
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Inside the ship – a miniature model of USS Blue Ridge and a map of the South East Asia
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the hallway of the ship…
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My camera view ahhahaa. I wear my head gear because its so hot outside.
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Its like a maze inside the ship, I followed the person infront of me just to make sure that I don’t get lost
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We’re now inside a briefing room…fully air conditioned room hahaha. we cooled down for 15 minutes while we wait for the briefing to start.
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They gave us their media kit
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And now…the briefing just started. They divided the media team into two groups. I belong to group 2 and I’m so glad that Christina of www.lakadpilipinas.com was there for the coverage. We are the only bloggers present during the media tour.
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Oppps….restricted area.
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The stairs that goes to the top and bottom of the ship.
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Circle around the stairs, we continued to go up
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Seal of the US 7th fleet.
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We’re now on top deck of the ship
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My view at the back
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Spotted a sailor carrying a part of the ship’s gun
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US marine on patrol around the ship carrying a loaded high grade weapons
This is not for show…but it’s the real McCoy
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spotted a helicopter parked at the deck
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my view of the other side of the ship..looking at the captain’s bridge and radar area
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not a light house
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spotted another helicopter

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my panoramic photo of the two helicopters
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lady sailor busy fixing a light line.
Btw, I saw lots of female sailors inside the ship and I thought that I can only see the male sailors.
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Spotted a pinoy chef named Chef Gonzales
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And here we are outside the room of the most classified part of the ship.. The Combat Information Center is the central command and control center of the ship and for the entire 7th fleet.

We saw the radar and lots of computer inside.
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the most exciting part of the tour is our stay inside the ship’s bridge.

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I see lots of analogs and digital stuff inside the bridge.
All are working fine and important for the entire crew
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Old phones are still effective and working
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A stand in sailor did a demo on how they control the ship’s speed and movement when they are at sea.
its just a simulation for photo op, but he said that he’s not the one controlling the ship.
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Ship’s control speed

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high powered binoculars


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using the high powered binoculars…I just spotted Jose Rizal’s monument


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captain chair ??

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Satellite antenna
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that’s me sitting on the captain’s chair at the bridge.
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Look down below…
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At the radar antenna…
that’s me pulling out a joke and using my iPhone to get a signal hahahah

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Seal of USS Blue Ridge
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One of the high rank officials welcoming us media guest
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We spotted our pinoy sailors on board USS Blue Ridge.
They are working here for almost 10 years. Its funny that some of them didn’t know that their co-sailors are pinoys hahahaha..And some of them are from Olongapo City.
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Interviewing US Navy Michael Ream, a pinoy from Olongapo City, he shared to us that he is a high school graduate that took exam to enter US Navy, after passing the exam they were brought to Guam to train and get the desired position in the field. The program was just around 6 months and everything was taught to them, Michael shared that he is an electrician for the USS Blue Ridge. One of the most important role is to fix any electrical problems within 24 hours and must fix it non stop. He said that he’s with the US Navy for 10 years already and he visits the Philippines during Christmas break and whenever the ship docks here in Manila. He miss the Philippines and Christmas is the best ever compare to other countries.
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Our pinoy sailors doing that fancy thumbs up….as requested by our media people
my thumbs up for them….for doing a great job!
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Pinoy sailors
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Photo op time
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Media guy standing near the helicopter
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My view of Manila Ocean Park
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American sailors…guarding their post..

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I don’t know what part of this in a ship. It looks like a giant antenna with control room
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The arrival of Vice Admiral Thomas
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VA Thomas shared some news about the US and PH navies relationship and collaboration, he also shared some news about the role they are doing for the search and rescue for the Malaysian Airline. He said that the 7th fleet will continue the search and rescue and they will only stop unless they are ordered to stop.
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Press conference with VA Thomas
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Our tour ended after the press conference of VA Thomas. We were escorted back to the port and took home a story and experience to share to our fellow pinoys.

Thanks to the US Embassy for inviting me to board the USS Blue Ridge.

Visit USS Blue Ridge LCC-19 Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/USSBlueRidge?ref=br_tf





The blogger

Azrael Coladilla is the blogger and founder of Azrael's Merryland Blog. This blog started as a personal blog in 2003, and then converted the blog into a lifeblog about his interest and reporting about pop culture, lifestyle, entertainment, technology, food, travel, toys, outdoor adventure, internet and social media. Awarded as the 2009 Most Influential Blogger for Luzon, Philippines, awarded by the Philippine Blog Awards. He is the founder of several online communities - Manila Bloggers Network, PBNetwork PH, Oh My Food! community, Cavite Bloggers, Travel and Blog Community, and Philippine ToyCon. He loves to travel, explore, discover, eat new food, document and record his life, meet new people, do photography and collects Transformers toys.
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