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Some big Phuket memories for sailors on world's largest warship

Phuket Wins Rave Reviews as Reagan Sets Sail

Sunday, September 27, 2009
THE USS Ronald Reagan, world's largest warship, was due to sail from Phuket today after five days of shore leave for its crew.

Feedback had been ''phenomenal,'' the aircraft carrier's public affairs officer, Lieutenant Commander Ron Flanders, told Phuketwan.

''There is a virtually universal sentiment that Phuket is one of the best liberty ports EVER, even among our more experienced sailors,'' Lt Commander Flanders said.

''Among the highlights: the Habitat for Humanity project where more than 150 sailors helped build a home for the needy.''

If there have been cases where crew broke the rules and hired a jet-ski or had problems with invading ladyboy katoeys making extra money, then they did not register with the top brass.

''Shore patrol activity is normal, in fact, things have been pretty quiet,'' Lt Commander Flanders said.

About 2500 sailors from the nuclear-powered carrier and its accompanying warships could be seen around the island each day.

One popular activity: elephant rides. ''Hundreds of sailors enjoyed elephant ride tours,'' he said.

Bar beer hoardings in Soi Bangla, we note, also offered ''Girls Rum and Fun.''

Lt Commander Flanders chipped Phuketwan for referring to Ronald Reagan as a B-movie actor, noting that he starred with Doris Day and was in many A-list roles.

''He even turned down the role in Casablanca that Bogart made famous. Imagine the effect that had on world history!''

When the media toured the USS Ronald Reagan we were privileged to see the cavernous hangar space and the huge flight deck, where more than 80 aircraft are housed.

However, the heart of the operational aircraft carrier is matched by a microworld inhabited by the crew.

Twenty-four-year-old Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Jennifer Janes, who works as a jet mechanic for 10 F/A-18C Hornet jets of Strike Force Squadron, recently told online what life is like below-decks on the massive ship.

''We've got stores,'' she told spinalcolumnonline.com. ''We've got what we call a 7-Eleven on board the ship, and the other store is called 'The Mall' and we get all kinds of junk food and goodies and snacks there, so that keeps us going, as well as the vending machines.

''We don't have Slurpees, although I wish that we did. It's really hot out here. We have Powerbars, energy bars, protein bars, granola bars, and every kind of candy bar that you would normally have in the states; a variety of chips; beef jerky; and then of course what the Navy really lives off of, Monster and Red Bull (energy drinks).

''Sometimes we get ice cream, that's very exciting, but it doesn't last very long.''

Days are heavily routine, Groundhogs Days, all like Monday, except for Sundays.

And we suspect no port, not even Phuket, quite matches arriving in the USS Ronald Reagan's home port, San Diego.
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