The buses from Issan have been packed this week after the U.S. navy pulled into Pattaya with 1,000 randy sailors looking for some R&R.
The USS Blue Ridge, the flagship of the U.S. 7th Fleet, arrived at Laem Chabang Port for the first time in three years, greeted by their Thai counterparts offering bad rates on currency exchanges, dodgy SIM cards and rides to Walking Street at “a good price”.
During the visit, the U.S. officers will pow-wow with their Thai opposites while, a Navy press release said, while enlisted seamen “will have opportunities to explore the area during tours and community relations projects alongside local citizens”.
The 7th Fleet Band also has a full schedule, including appearing at Terminal 21 in Bangkok on Friday.
“These visits are a tremendous opportunity to strengthen our relationship and build upon our historic this,“ said Rear Adm. Ted LeClair, deputy commander for the 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 Capt. Eric 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.”
Lt. James Hicks, the Blue Ridge’s chaplain, admitted most people think sailors hit shore looking only for booze and birds. But that’s not true, the man of the cloth insisted.
“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.”