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The USS Ronald Reagan off Phuket: huge benefits from another visit

USS Ronald Reagan Heads for Visit

Tuesday, April 19, 2011
THE ARRIVAL of a US aircraft carrier off Phuket shortly will test the ability of Phuket's leaders to manage local taxis as well as giving the island a huge cash economic boost.

Returning to Phuket soon, Phuketwan has learned, will be the world's largest carrier, USS Ronald Reagan, with a cruiser and a destroyer, a combined battle group carrying up to 8000 crew for liberty leave on Phuket.

The battle group's latest assignment has been providing relief to Japan following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, with the crew washing down the Reagan's flight deck after the carrier was hit by radiation from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

An even warmer welcome can be expected on Phuket. When the USS Ronald Reagan was last anchored off the island, an estimated $US1 million was delivered to Phuket's economy every day.

Last year the nuclear-powered carrier USS Nimitz followed the Reagan - and only later did the full extent of the problem with blockades by local taxi drivers at Phuket's east coast deep sea port become apparent.

More in-depth talks are expected between US officials and Phuket's administrators in an effort to make sure there is no repetition of the taxi blockade that occurred on April 6, preventing passengers on a luxury cruise ship from enjoying their one-day stay on Phuket.

There is an understandable degree of nervousness because Phuket administrators have previously promised that there would be no more trouble for the US Navy with local taxi drivers.

However, police had to be called to settle a dispute involving taxi drivers and the last US destroyer to anchor off Phuket for liberty leave.

The leader of the local east coast taxis involved in the cruise liner dispute, Narong Kumbaan, told Phuketwan today: ''We don't have a problem with the US Navy. We plan to operate the usual system.

''We will have 250 taxis ready for the ships, and 30 taxis at a time will go into the deep sea port area and can be hired if sailors want to hire them. More taxis will go in as hired taxis come out.''

US crews have the option of a free courtesy shuttle bus from the deep sea port on the east coast to Patong on the west coast, but those who wish to catch a taxi as an alternative are able to do so.

With the cruise ship, though, taxi drivers demanded and won a 50-50 share of passengers with a tour operator. Because the standoff took more than four hours to resolve, most of the passengers on the luxurious Silver Spirit missed their chance to spend time relaxing on Phuket.

Before its relief assignment in Japan, the Ronald Reagan joined the Indian Navy in exercises at sea.

China recently gained its first aircraft carrier, and the US appears set to continue to assert its strategic grip across the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
Phuket Talks Taxis as USS Ronald Reagan Heads for Visit
Latest Fresh from tsunami and quake relief work off Japan, shore leave on Phuket for the USS Ronald Reagan battle group brings official talks about local taxi drivers.
Phuket Talks Taxis as USS Ronald Reagan Heads for Visit

Phuket Taxi Drivers Content to Wave Farewell to Cruises
Latest If cruise ships don't want to visit Phuket for fear of blockades and high taxi prices, never mind, the leader of protest drivers says. Coming Next: Perhaps the US Navy.
Phuket Taxi Drivers Content to Wave Farewell to Cruises

Update: Phuket Standoff as Taxis Blockade Cruise Liner
Photo Album/UPDATE Local Phuket taxi drivers take the law into their own hands and again blockade cruise liner passengers as Phuket's public transport crisis escalates.
Update: Phuket Standoff as Taxis Blockade Cruise Liner

Phuket Police Intervene in US Navy, Local Taxi Dispute
Latest As a welcoming party celebrated the arrival of a US Navy destroyer off Phuket, word came of a dispute involving local port tuk tuk and taxi drivers who wanted their fare share of the visitors.
Phuket Police Intervene in US Navy, Local Taxi Dispute

Phuket Taxi Blockades Bring Government Action
Breaking News Three incidents involving the blockading of US Navy personnel by Phuket taxi and tuktuk drivers have led to the formation of a special committee to oversee future visits.
Phuket Taxi Blockades Bring Government Action

US Warships Anchor! Phuket's All Set to Rumble
Extra Photos Added The USS Ronald Reagan anchors off Phuket with other US warships and a stream of sailors begin heading for the island. It's a bonus for tourism after a lean low season.
US Warships Anchor! Phuket's All Set to Rumble

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Well lets see if they're up for the task this time, once and for all.

Posted by nick on April 20, 2011 08:09

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I would be more interested to see if the 'maximum pricing' model will be followed/enforced. Perhaps someone could be on-site to monitor and even interview the sailors to see what they paid. It's time to hold the 'lip service' from the officials accountable, especially when this much money is on the line for Phuket.

Posted by jon on April 20, 2011 09:53

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Now that these people have successfully blackmailed the cruise liner into a 50/50 arrangement, can anyone believe that they will settle for anything less with the US Navy? My guess is that a similar arrangement will be negotiated behind closed doors prior to the ships arriving. Whatever the case may be, a journalist needs to be there to document the situation.

Posted by Ping on April 20, 2011 11:45

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Let the Government's Khun Suthep come down and deal with it, and put a stop to these gangster blackmail practices once and for all.

Posted by Ian on April 20, 2011 18:36

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sooo, nothing about that other newspaper tipping off the taxi drivers they should keep doing blockades eh?

Posted by JingJing on April 20, 2011 22:52

Editor Comment:

Is this the latest from Thai Visa or some other impeccable source?


Tuesday November 19, 2019
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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