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Dry Ridge Native Serving in Navy Aboard Ship in Japan

YOKOSUKA, Japan- A Dry Ridge, native and 2016 Grant County High School is serving in the U.S. Navy forward-deployed aboard USS Blue Ridge.

Seaman Elizabeth Whitekerkearns works in the deck department aboard the ship operating out of Yokosuka, Japan. The ship routinely deploys to protect alliances, enhance partnerships, and be ready to respond if a natural disaster occurs in the region.

A sailor in the deck department maintains and preserves the exterior surfaces of the ship, handles deck machinery and equipment, and takes part in various evolutions such as search and rescue and underway replenishment..

Whitekerkearns is proud to serve in the Pacific and fondly recalls memories of Dry Ridge.

“My dad taught me to work hard and I learned leadership from playing sports,” said Whitekerkearns. “It makes things go by quicker and smoother, if you just work hard.”

Moments like that makes it worth serving around the world ready at all times to defend America’s interests. With more than 50 percent of the world's shipping tonnage and a third of the world's crude oil passing through the region, the United States has historic and enduring interests in this part of the world.  The Navy's presence in Yokosuka is part of that long-standing commitment, explained Navy officials.

USS Blue Ridge serves as the flagship for the U.S. Seventh Fleet. It is one of only two U.S. Navy command ships in the world, providing command and control for fleet commanders.

“Being deployed here is tough because we are the flagship and always in the spotlight,” said Whitekerkearns. “I like that it’s a small command, so everyone knows each other and we’re like one big family.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Whitekerkearns and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

"I like working on this ship because of the friendships I’ve made," said Whitekerkearns. "It’s nice to work with people you get along with and respect.”

Seventh Fleet, which is celebrating its 75th year in 2018, spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border; and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South. Seventh Fleet's area of operation encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50 percent of the world’s population with between 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 Sailors in the 7th Fleet.

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Robert Zahn, Navy Office of Community Outreach 

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