By USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19)
Apra Harbor, GUAM -- U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and embarked 7th Fleet staff pulled into Guam for a Safe Haven Liberty port visit June 11.The visit is the second of its kind since the ship pulled into Okinawa in May, enhancing liberty options for 7th Fleet ships conducting COVID mitigations.During Blue Ridge’s liberty, Sailors have access to specific designated areas on the pier and a secured beach on base. This type of port visit is designed to provide the necessary mental and physical relaxation that the crew needs in order to better perform their jobs and feel rejuvenated allowing for quality of life liberty, boosting crew morale, readiness, and effectiveness while mitigating the risk of contracting COVID-19.Blue Ridge’s Morale, Welfare, and Recreation committee has worked diligently to ensure that while in port, Sailors will have access to areas of the base and have entertainment available all while inside the safe zone.“Just like in Okinawa, our goal is to maintain a COVID-free bubble while providing the crew with a much needed opportunity to relax,” said Blue Ridge’s senior MWR representative, Chief Navy Counselor Min Jun.This allows Sailors the opportunity to unwind while pier side in Guam and enjoy the amenities provided. Food and beverages will be offered along with Wi-Fi installed on the pier so that our Sailors can use their phones and laptops and a section of the beach will be designated as a safe zone and open for Sailors.With the exception of a few mandatory personnel to ensure the ship’s safe arrival, there will be no interaction with any personnel outside the designated liberty areas. For the docking process, all COVID mitigations will be in place to include social distancing, masks, gloves, and minimal interactions."Without the crew's cooperation liberty wouldn't be possible," said Lt. Cmdr. John Saenz, Blue Ridge’s Doctor. "Our Sailors are motivated to stay clean and hygienic, keeping alert and following all procedures set out by our medical team. With the Blue Ridge and 7th Fleet teams' combined efforts we can maintain readiness and continue to conduct operations without interruption."These port visits are paving the way for future U.S. Navy vessels to implement Safe Haven Liberty in a manner which Sailors’ morale and quality of life is taken into consideration while mitigating the risk of COVID-19.Blue Ridge is the oldest operational ship in the Navy, and as 7th Fleet command ship, actively works to fostering relationships within the Indo-Pacific region.