LAEM CHABANG, Thailand - U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) arrived in Laem Chabang for a port visit, April. 3.
During the visit, 7th Fleet will host counterparts from the Royal Thai Navy 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.
The visit reflects nearly 200 years of friendly U.S.-Thai relations, a longstanding security alliance and enduring navy-to-navy partnership. Several U.S. Navy ships visit ports in Thailand each year. U.S. Navy and RTN sailors train together during exercises like Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), Cobra Gold, Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT), Guardian Sea and Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC). The Pacific Partnership humanitarian disaster relief mission visits Thailand each year.
“These visits are a tremendous opportunity to strengthen our relationship and build upon our historic ties," 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 Capt. Eric Anduze, commanding officer of USS Blue Ridge. “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."
It adds up to a port visit that will be enjoyable and enriching, Anduze said.
“Our crew and staff members work as hard as any in the Navy, and our Sailors deserve every opportunity to enjoy themselves safely and responsibly," Anduze said. “I expect our team will be throughout the area, enjoying the local culture and setting the standard for liberty as a mission. They've earned it."
As 7th Fleet’s flagship, Blue Ridge provides a mobile command and control capability throughout the Indo-Pacific. Blue Ridge is commanded by Capt. Eric Anduze and serves under Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7/Task Force 76, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force.