By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeff Troutman
SATTAHIP, Thailand – U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) along with embarked staff, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12 and Marines from Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team Pacific (FASTPAC) arrived in Sattahip for a port visit May 10, strengthening relations with one of its strongest regional allies.
While in Thailand, many Sailors and Marines have volunteered to visit a local children’s home and a child development center. Morale, Welfare and Recreation have also organized cultural trips allowing Sailors and Marines an opportunity to experience Thailand.
“It’s important for us to engage the community because it shows we’re here for more reasons than to just have a good time,” said Religious Programs Specialist 1st Class Brian Jewell. “We have a lot of clothing and sporting equipment we will donate to the kids, and I’m looking forward to the chance to interact with them.”
“Each member of the Blue Ridge/7th Fleet team is excited, poised and ready to enjoy taking part in community relation projects and interacting with local citizens during this port visit,” said Blue Ridge Command Master Chief Mark Tomlinson. “It’s been almost two years since we last visited Thailand, and we’re all looking forward to enhancing the friendship between our two great nations.”
The Treaty of Amity and Commerce was signed in 1833, making Thailand, then known as Siam, the United States’ oldest ally in Asia. As treaty allies, both countries enjoy the strongest and most enduring commitment two nations can make, forging positive military-to-military relationships based on common interests related to maritime security, counterterrorism, defense trade and security of the global commons.
Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan for 34 years. As the flag ship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Robert L. Thomas, Blue Ridge is vital in maintaining partnerships in the 7th Fleet area of operations.