Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Phuket Gains Daring US Navy Visitors

USS Shiloh launched six cruise missiles in Operation Desert Strike

By Phuketwan Reporter

Monday, May 3, 2010
TWO US Navy ships are due to anchor off Phuket on Friday, latest in the continuing friendly invasion of warships and their relaxation-seeking crews.

It seems that the Thailand-wide travel alerts, imposed by the US and many other countries in response to the red rallies in Bangkok, do not apply to military personnel.

Crews visiting Phuket are usually advised not to use tuk-tuks or hire jet-skis, cars or motorbikes, but local taxi drivers have been accused of demanding extortionate fares from navy visitors and cruise line passengers.

Both ships have interesting histories. The USNS Earhart is named after aviatrix Amelia Earhart, who vanished over the Pacific Ocean in 1937.

The ship named in her honor is purpose-built to deliver ammunition, food, fuel and other dry cargo to US and allied warships at sea. It is crewed by 124 civil service mariners and, at times, will include an additional compliment of military personnel and carry two helicopters.

The other ship, guided missile cruiser USS Shiloh, has a record of hot engagement in the Middle East and is capable of facing and defeating threats in the air, on the sea, or underneath the sea. She also carries two Seahawk multi-purpose helicopters, mainly for anti-submarine warfare.

The Phuket Navy League has organised a couple of welcomes. The first is a wardroom welcome party consisting of buffet and drinks at the BBQ Hut on Rat-U-Thit Road in Patong for officers and selected crew of the two ships. Entrance fee is 200 baht for Navy League members, 400 baht for visitors, no cost to ship's crew and media, from 6pm.

An all ships' crew BBQ buffet with 100 baht beers will also be held at Community Affiliate member Malibu Bar in Soi Eric, on Soi Bangla in Patong, from 6pm, with free bbq and a cash bar. Live music.

Phuket Navy League members are also invited to sign up for a special tour of the USNS Earhart, probably on May 8.

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