Story by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Heather Ewton
MANILA, Republic of the Philippines – U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge arrived in Manila for a four-day port visit March 7.
This port visit gives embarked Marines, 7th Fleet staff and Blue Ridge Sailors an opportunity to experience Manila’s unique culture and provide Sailors with several community service events.
For more than 30 years, Blue Ridge has maintained a presence in Southeast Asia region strengthening allied ties through community service projects and conducting joint military exercises with regional nations, including the Republic of the Philippines.
Blue Ridge Commanding Officer, Capt. Will Pennington said, “Port calls in Manila are a demonstration of the continuing friendship between our two nations, and are a tremendous opportunity for the crew to experience the warm and friendly Filipino culture. Our partnership and alliance is long standing and mutually beneficial. We are looking forward to community service events, sporting games, and subject matter expert exchanges with our Filipino Navy counterparts.”
Aboard Blue Ridge, approximately 10 percent of the crew is made up of Filipino Sailors: Some of whom are getting the chance to reconnect with family and friends for the first time in many years.
“This is the first time I’m returning to the Philippines in more than five years,” said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Sukarno Ikbala. “I’m very excited to take part in the events planned with the community and spending some quality time with my family that lives here.”