SATTAHIP, Thailand -- Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76) concluded a port visit in Sattahip, Thailand, Oct. 11.
The port visit demonstrated the U.S. commitment to regional partnerships, and helped foster growing relationships, as well as offered Sailors the opportunity to relax and enjoy Thailand's culture, cuisine and exotic attractions.
“Everyone on Higgins was excited about visiting Thailand and our stop in Sattahip exceeded all expectations,” said Cmdr. Joseph McGettigan, commanding officer of USS Higgins. “The Royal Thai Fleet Commander was a gracious host and took fantastic care of Higgins and our Canadian and Australian counterparts. It was an honor to spend time with representatives from the Thai Royal Fleet and deepen our relationship with one of our oldest allies in the region. The crew was also able to enjoy some rest for a few days and explore the amazing food and culture of Thailand.”
While in port, crew members had the opportunity to participate in tours sponsored by Higgins’ Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) department, including a tiger park, elephant riding and snorkeling.
“We wanted to make sure the crew had several options to choose from so they would have the opportunity to see as much of Thailand as possible for the short time we were there,” said Higgins’ MWR President Navy Counselor 1st Class Daniela Kobayashi. “We all have a busy workload while we’re out at sea which makes it difficult to plan how we’re going to spend our time while in port. Having the ability to just sign up for a pre-planned tour or trip made it easy for Sailors to do and see all the exciting things Thailand has to offer. We received great feedback from everyone who participated.”
The religious program aboard Higgins, led by Higgins’ chaplain Lt. Matthew Moynihan, arranged three community relations (COMREL) events for sailors to participate in during the port visit.
Sailors were able to spend time laughing and playing with children from The Drop-In Center, one of the projects of the Human Help Foundation in Pattaya which hosts about 85 children a day from neighboring nations whose parents are day laborers in Thailand; the Child Protection and Development Center, a local orphanage dedicated to the caring of displaced children, orphans and rescued trafficked children; and the Father Ray Foundation, an organization committed to nurturing, protecting and safeguarding children and young people, and cares for and educates 850 underprivileged children and students with disabilities.
“COMRELs provide an opportunity for our Sailors to care for and serve the people of our host nation as well as the chance to be introduced to this beautiful country and see it and her people through new eyes,” said Command Chaplain Lt. Matthew Moynihan. “Events like these allow us to put a face to those we stand to protect. This weekend, those faces were the wonderful children we were supporting. We played outdoor games and led them in a 'Junior Sailor' qualifying event. At the end we presented each child a certificate granting them the honorary rank of Junior Sailor. Our crew now leave here with a greater awareness for those their labors impact and a new appreciation of the people and nation of Thailand.”
Higgins is assigned to Commander, Task Force 71/Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest forward-deployed DESRON and the U.S. 7th fleet’s principal surface force.
U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest forward-deployed fleet in the world, and with the help of a network of alliances and partners from 35 other maritime-nations, the U.S. Navy has operated in the Indo-Pacific region for more than 70 years, providing credible, ready forces to help preserve peace and prevent conflict.