USS Blue Ridge, the flagship of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet pulled into Pattaya for the first time in three years for some sailor R&R and naval networking.
Nearly 1,000 sailors will rotate to take leave after arriving at Laem Chabang Port April 3. They were greeted by counterparts from the Royal Thai Navy, which provided currency exchange services, telephone SIM cards and rides into Pattaya.
Capt. Eric J. Anduze said his crew is always impressed with Thai food and hospitality and are happy to be back.
During the visit, 7th Fleet will host their counterparts for professional exchanges while the crew will have opportunities to explore the area during tours and community relations projects alongside local citizens.
The 7th Fleet Band will play several public concerts in Bangkok and Pattaya.
“These visits are a tremendous opportunity to strengthen our relationship and build upon our historic this,” said Rear Adm. Ted LeClair, deputy commander U.S. 7th Fleet. “We’re looking forward to a fruitful visit and successful staff talks that will benefit our navies and enhance regional security.”
Before today, Blue Ridge had not visited Thailand since March 2016.
“The crew always enjoys opportunities to work hand-in-hand with our allies and it’s great to be back among friends in Thailand,” said Anduze. “With Thailand, the tradition of our Navy’s presence here has given us a huge foundation to build upon. The work that we do with each other provides great benefits to both of our navies and our countries.”
Many Blue Ridge and 7th Fleet sailors are looking forward to participating in community relations projects in port.
“It’s exciting to see sailors sign up to volunteer their liberty time by helping others,” said Lt. James Hicks, Blue Ridge chaplain. “With so many of our sailors experiencing their first visit to Thailand, it would make sense they would want to relax and enjoy the nightlife, but they’re actually more interested in helping people and making a difference in every country we visit. It’s refreshing to see that.”