As just one of the two dedicated command ships in the Navy’s operational fleet, the USS Blue Ridge has served the United States for nearly a half-century, from the Vietnam War to the growing tensions with North Korea. But according to a new report, the 7th Fleet flagship has cultivated a secondary mission in recent years as the party yacht at the heart of the Fat Leonard scandal that’s roiled the service.
It was “perhaps the worst national-security breach of its kind to hit the Navy since the end of the Cold War, as the Washington Post put it: Leonard Glenn Francis, a 350-pound defense contractor, plied dozens of Navy and Marine personnel with prostitutes and cash to get sensitive info on their ships’ movements — info he used to snag port-service contracts and overbill the service to the tune of at least $35 million.
Leonard Glenn Francis, aka “Fat Leonard,” is at the center of a scandal that has plagued the Navy for years. Fat Leonard was the CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia, or GDMA, a Singapore-based supplier of maritime services and naval logistics. GDMA is a husbanding agent, which manages such sundry services as arranging for tugs, docking, fuel, and supplies for the Navy when it visits a foreign port. Leonard was arrested in San Diego in November 2013.