The U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet command ship, USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19), is outfitted with the latest command, control, and communications technology in order to effectively command naval units defending the national interests of the United States.
This highly visible ship, which operates routinely in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, and waters adjacent to areas involved in the War on Terrorism, visits many foreign ports, conducting military and diplomatic engagements with U.S. allies, in her normal international duties. With the potential threat to this valuable national asset, and the need for continuous review and practice of force protection, Blue Ridge's Commanding Officer, Capt. Andrew Sevald sent 10 of his officers to Naval Station San Diego, Calif. recently to take advantage of the Marine Safety International (MSI) training facility. The simulator training available at MSI features ship handling, safe navigation and many other areas, including force protection.
LCDR David W. Haas, Blue Ridge's Executive Officer, who oversaw the training at the facility, said that naval surface warfare officers use the facility to develop basic surface warfare skills, but the Blue Ridge officers were able to further expand the numerous scenarios the trainer offers.
"Every six months, the Captain (Sevald) or I go with 10 junior officers to the trainer to maintain skills," he said. "After an SRA [Ship's Restricted Availability] period, this can help to recapture the mariner's eye. But after the USS COLE
(DDG 67) incident," said Haas, "I asked if it would be possible if we could interact a terrorist type scenario into the training."