FEATURES The Fincastle Herald

Village a namesake for two vessels

Blue Ridge is one of the few communities to have been honored by having its name on the side of a shipping vessel.

In November 1944, the Blue Ridge Victory, named for the community on US 460, was launched at the Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyard in Baltimore.

The Blue Ridge Victory under construction at the Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyard in Baltimore during World War II.
The Blue Ridge Victory under construction at the Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyard in Baltimore during World War II.

The ship was one of a fleet of Victory ships built by the American Merchant Marine.

The ship became the flagship for the Seventh Amphibious Force, operating off the coast of New Guinea.

After leading attack forces in the liberation of the Philippines, she went on to serve as flagship for amphibious groups Five, Seven and One in the Pacific.

She received two battle stars during World War II and then served as command and observation ship during atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in July 1946.

The ship was decommissioned in 1947 and assigned to US Pacific Reserve Fleet. Her name was struck from the Navy list on January 1, 1960 and she was sold for scrap in August of that year.

When the ship was commissioned in 1943, Blue Ridge was still remembered as a “noted health resort,” news reports said. The Blue Ridge Springs Hotel, from which the area took its name, burned in 1939.

Mrs. Dorsey V. Radcliff of Blue Ridge, the mother of three sons in the service at the time, (Kermit, Richard and Lawrence), attended the 1944 launching, accompanied by Mrs. E. W. Moorman, Margaret McClure, Rosalie Dooley and Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Reynolds, all of Blue Ridge.

According to some news reports, Mrs. Radcliff won the honor of sponsoring the ship by collecting the greatest amount of money toward the purchase of a library for the vessel. Another news account said she was chosen by popular vote of Blue Ridge residents to sponsor the ship.

A library of about 200 books, collected from citizens of Blue Ridge, was sent to the ship as a gift to the ship’s officers and crew.

The ship was the fifth victory ship launched that month.

Another ship named USS Blue Ridge is an amphibious command ship designed in the early 1960s to be the largest and most sophisticated command ship ever built. The ship was commissioned in 1970 to serve as command ship for the Amphibious Task Force Commander, Landing Force Commander and Air Control Group Commander during Amphibious operations.

In 1979, the USS Blue Ridge became the Seventh Fleet Flagship, operating from Yokosuka, Japan.

It remains in service today and is now headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan.

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