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Phuket rolls out the welcome for the US Navy in June

Big Debate: US Warships Heading for Phuket

Monday, September 14, 2009
Phuket Photo Album Above. Big Debate Below! What will the crews be doing on Phuket?

THREE US warships, including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, are coming to Phuket for five days from September 22. About 4000 sailors will take shore leave on the island.

Jet-skis and ladyboys were among the potential problems raised today as an advance team of US Navy officers met with Phuket's Chief of Police, Major General Pekad Tantipong, and the Superintendent of Patong's Kathu Police Station, Colonel Grissak Songmoonnark.

The two police chiefs were told that jet-skis and ladyboys were the two Phuket ''attractions'' that usually caused friction.

US sailors are barred from riding jet-skis.

With the USS Ronald Reagan will come the destroyer USS Howard and the guided missile cruiser USS Chancellorville. This will be the largest contingent of US sailors to visit Phuket.

As well as being a boost to the tourism industry, the arrival of the US warships is a sign that the US Navy has confidence in Phuket as a safe destination for its sailors.

News of the visit came as debate continued about corruption and scams on the island that threaten to damage Phuket's future as a safe and hospitable tourist destination for both military personnel and civilians.

US sailors are usually well behaved and are simply asked to follow guidelines. Their behavior is usually overseen by US military police.

But on a previous visit by US warships earlier this year, one US marine took a ride on a jet-ski, and found himself being filmed by a British production company making a series called 'Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand.'

That incident popped up on YouTube this week as a controversy continued about the ''mafia'' in Patong and jet-ski scams in which tourists are ripped off by locals.

It has also been alleged that some police are involved, pocketting commissions on the rip-offs. Ambassadors from China, Britain, and Australia have asked local authorities to make sure the cheating stops.

The scale of the problem on Phuket has been raised with the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister.

Today Colonel Pekad said that the US sailors would not be exploited by local businesses. Locals would also be well-behaved and welcomed the US Navy.

Illegal drugs would be a focus of attention by island police during the five-day shore leave, he said.

Special ''Help Centres'' would be established at Patong Beach Resort and in Soi Bangla to assist with any inquiries that sailors needed to make.

''Phuket people are very friendly,'' the US Navy spokesman said. ''We appreciate the way we are treated when US warships are in port.''

The US warships are expected to berth at or off Phuket's deep sea port.

Most sailors take the opportunity to spend time ashore . . . and a bed on land has great appeal. Phuket resorts can be expected to have an influx of bookings.

Because the sailors are mostly young and adventurous, their arrival usually means a boost for diving and adventure tours, too.

USS Ronald Reagan: (CVN-76) is a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarrier in the service of the United States Navy. The ninth ship of her class, she is named in honor of former President Ronald Reagan, President of the United States from 1981 to 1989. Upon her christening in 2001, she was the first ship to be named for a living former president. Ronald Reagan displaces approximately 95,000 tons of water fully loaded, has a top speed of over 30 knots (56 km/h), powered by two nuclear reactors driving four screws, and can sail for over 20 years before needing to refuel. She is nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall at 1092 feet (333 m) and is 134 feet (41 m) wide at the beam and has a flight deck 252 feet (77 m) wide. The flight deck covers over 4.5 acres (18,000 m. She can carry more than 5500 sailors and over 80 aircraft.

USS Chancellorville: The purpose of the ship is to detect, classify and track hundreds of potential targets simultaneously in the air, on the surface, and under the sea. It can destroy targets using a variety of weapons: ship and helicopter launched torpedoes, deck guns, surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles, rapid-fire close-in weapons, and electronic jammers and decoys.

USS Howard: The ship is named in honor of Gunnery Sergeant Jimmie E. Howard, USMC, (1929-1993), recipient of the Medal of Honor for his leadership of a platoon against repeated attacks by a battalion-sized Viet Cong force. After receiving severe wounds from an enemy grenade, he distributed ammunition to his men and directed air strikes on the enemy. By dawn, his beleaguered platoon still held their position. Howard also received the Silver Star Medal for service in Korea.

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Comments

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This whole business of american warships coming to Phuket is a disgrace. It is all about bargirls and prostitution, any one who says its not is just lying to themselves. And that the US military makes this possible is nothing but a big fat scandal.

Posted by christos on September 15, 2009 08:34

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What's your point exactly Christos? Since time immemorial, Armies all over the world have used R & R to improve the morale of their troops. A way of saying 'thanks' for a job well done. Now, what kinda party would you throw for a large group of highly trained, skilled and fit young people, with an average age under 30? A trip to the library? McDonalds happy meals? A cultural visit to Tibet? Trekking in Sheffield? Or a trip to the beach, with a load of bars, clubs and girls.
Bit of a no-brainer if you ask me Christos.
Where would you take 'em for R & R ?

Posted by Mark on September 15, 2009 23:05

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Tibet is of course a fantastic destination. But any other government agency indirectly promoting bargirls and prostitution would be slaughtered in the media. I guess what Im saying is that the miltitary is a stone age, macho organisation that needs to let their testosterone fueled soldiers buy hookers..The saying "Pumping" money into the local economy has never been put to better use.

Posted by christos on September 16, 2009 08:48

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Get a life Christos. U.S. sailors are some of the nicest people who visit Phuket, and if you didn't notice last time a lot of them were women!

Posted by Philip on September 16, 2009 10:11

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I don't really see how the US government is 'promoting bar girls and prostitution' merely by allowing a ship to dock in Phuket and letting the servicemen and women have some R & R.

Are travel agents who sell holidays to single men and women also guilty of the same?

Every single port in the world has prostitutes in it. Sailors at sea for extended periods get horny. That's been the nature of the navy since man took to the water in boats.

So where would you take 4000 young people then? Phuket is large enough to accommodate all their needs. Sure some are gonna end up with girls. Big deal !

Plenty others are going to do charitable work, or go on culture trails, or a whole plethora of other activities that don't include drinking or shagging.

The US govt cannot possibly be indirectly supporting prostitution in Phuket because prostitution is illegal in Thailand !

Posted by mark on September 16, 2009 13:16

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Come on Christos - if 6000 people from your country or any country, and been isolated at sea for 3-4 months or longer visited any place on the planet what would they do? These men (and women) will certainly be the best behaved and spend the most per person and leave the island a better place.

The US Navy always contributes to the economy and society. Did you know they will build a house (yes a complete house) for a poor family in Phuket, paint 5 different local schools, do work at an Orphanage and leave behind thousands of dollars in good for the underprivleged?

Of course you do not, and even now that you do, would that change your mind? I think not and I think you have the stone age mentality!

Posted by Brad on September 17, 2009 06:47

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My boyfriend will be one of the sailors you are arguing about. Yeah, I get nervous at these types of ports, but there are lots of other things they love about Thailand than the girls and bars. Have you seen their racks? so tiny. My man doesn't fit head to toe.

His King size bed in the hotel in Phuket will be his heaven on earth, even with no company to share it! Plus they will be doing a TON of shopping for souvenirs to bring home since they are afterall on their way to see their families for the first time in almost half a year! =0)

Posted by Ry on September 17, 2009 08:55

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There is absolutely NO credibility left with any Thai official when he or she says that there are efforts to stop the scams and cheating.

Posted by Gonzague on September 17, 2009 11:12

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I work in a hotel where two wives, one with a daughter, will be meeting with their husbands for the first time in six months who have been stationed on that ship.

There are a lot of women in the service now.
Also can someone tell me the difference between a bar girl and a prostitute?

Posted by vfaye on September 19, 2009 09:54

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Thanks for this article - my daughter is a Chief on the USS Howard and, although we communicate pretty regularly, she can never tell me where she is or is going. "Loose lips sink ships" you know. So now I know she'll be in Phuket for a few days of R&R. Awesome! Her career in the USN takes her to some of the most exotic places in the world and I get to experience these places through her. Welcome to Phuket, Lizzie!! Love you.

Posted by Debbie on September 19, 2009 20:50

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Of course sailors want sex and of course Thailand, famously provides it. It's the two-faced, shadow legality of it all that is wrong. Legalise prostitution NOW !

Posted by Horse Doctor on September 20, 2009 08:03

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There are always reports about the number of prostitutes increasing when an american warship is coming...Probably to join the sailors on the culture trails? If you cant see the difference between a tour company selling a package to Thailand and a government agency like the navy off-loading their horny sailors in a beach resort infamous for prostitution, then i guess this debate is totally in vain. By the way, Patong is not a port, the port is on the OTHER side of the island. And yes, engaging in prostitution is a crime in Thailand, but only for the seller. Just like in the US if Im not wrong?

And since the navy is a government organisation, lets ponder this: The representatives from the IRS takes part in a conference of some sort in thailand. They all get free condoms from the IRS and get information about the dangers of drug use and ladyboys..That would of course not be any problem to many taking part in this debate? In that case, no problem for me. If you dont agree, then why? Because sailors are horny and have the right to be provided the opportunity to enjoy a few days of sleaze and booze because they have been at sea for so long?

Posted by christos on September 21, 2009 11:46

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CRISTOS - now that they're gone and not a single incident, what do you think? Almost 5,000 US Sailors ashore per day for 5 days and no major incidents, what more could a tourist location want!

They spent around 35 million Baht per day not including the refurbishment of supplies. We welcome you, US NAVY to Phuket!

By the way for those that do care, what they did while in Phuket; they did 9 Community Service projects including building a complete house for a desperate family, painting 4 local schools, and built an organic garden, painting dorm rooms, restoring a river bank for an Orphange to mention a few! They interfaced with hundreds of local children making their lives a little brighter!

Thank you Navy you're welcome at any time to Phuket by 99.999999% of the true contributors to Phuket!

Posted by bek on September 29, 2009 00:00


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