May 21 (UPI) -- The USS Blue Ridge marked 65 days of continuous underway operations this week, the Navy announced on Thursday, surpassing a record the ship had held for 48 years.
The Blue Ridge, generally known for its frequent port visits, changed its patrol for underway operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic and broke its record on Sunday, according to the Navy.
The vessel conducted operations that included supporting the 7th command and control of the fleet and supporting partners and allies across the region in lieu of physical visits.
According to the Navy, the vessel's previous record of 64 days was set during the Vietnam War, when it left port April 5, 1972 and stayed in the Gulf of Tonkin until June 2, 1972, at which point the Blue Ridge moored in the Philippines.
"This is an amazing accomplishment for the Blue Ridge, especially being the Navy's oldest operational warship and approaching her 50th year of service," Blue Ridge commanding officer, Capt. Craig C. Sicola, said in a statement.
"As I told the crew, the record is only a number, but their hard work and resiliency has been truly impressive and that's what really matters," Sicola said. "These times are uniquely challenging for the entire world, but it takes an extremely dedicated crew to maintain this old of a ship at sea for this long."
According to Damage Controlman 1st Class Bryan McCullough, the crew has taken advantage of the extra time at sea by making routine drills like fire, flooding and structural damage more advanced, which has made the crew's response times faster."
Blue Ridge is the Navy's oldest operational ship. It is part of the 7th Fleet command, which has 50 to 70 ships and 140 aircraft and employs 20,000 sailors.
The vessel's mission is to foster relationships among allies and partners within the Indo-Pacific region.