Commissioned into service in 1971, the U.S. Navy’s Amphibious Command Ships (LCC) were the only ships to be initially designed for an amphibious command ship role. Previous amphibious command ships lacked the necessary speed to keep up with a 20-knot amphibious force. To address this issue, the U.S. Navy commissioned in 1970 its first of two Blue Ridge-class ships.
Conceived in 1963, the first of the Blue Ridge-class vessels-the USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19)-represented the latest in U.S. Navy Command and Controls ship design. In this 18,500-ton ship are the facilities and technologies needed to direct and manage every phase of command and control operations. Blue Ridge-class vessels provide command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) support to the commander and staff of their designated fleets. When national interests call for it, Blue Ridge-class amphibious command ships also act as Commander Joint Task Force (CJTF) flagships.
Serving as floating headquarters for the combatant command, the USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19) became the command ship of the United States Seventh Fleet (based in Yokosuka, Japan) in 1979. The second Blue Ridge-class ship, the USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20), took over command duties for the United States Second Fleet in 1981, and subsequently became the command ship of the United States Sixth Fleet (based in Naples, Italy) in 2005.
The most sophisticated command ship ever built, a Blue Ridge-class vessel is integrated with the Joint Maritime Command Information System (JMCIS). The JMCIS consists of several powerful computers scattered throughout the vessel, from which information and data from international origins are inputted into a central database. This cohesive database concentrates the given intelligence into a comprehensive tactical picture of air, surface and subsurface contacts-enabling the Fleet Commander to quickly assess and concentrate on any situation which might arise. This ability to process intelligence from international military and civilian sources gives a Blue Ridge-class ship a global command and control capability unparalleled in Naval history.
The following are the commissioned Blue Ridge-class ships currently deployed: