US NAVY ship visits will continue throughout ports in Thailand as they always have, a US Embassy spokesperson said today. He added that he could not comment on any ongoing investigations.
PHUKET: The days of US warships visiting Phuket may be over for the time being, Phuket Navy League members fear, as the ripples spread from a scandal involving kickbacks and payoffs.
The Phuket spokesperson for Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd, which provides visiting US vessels with support when they anchor off Phuket, was not prepared to comment today.
Accusations made against top US Navy brass and the Glenn Marine CEO have left ports throughout Asia uncertain about future liberty leave visits by aircraft carriers and warships.
Glenn Marine is reckoned to have perhaps the largest private navy in the world, with vessels capable of providing support to the US Navy across as many as eight countries at the same time.
''It's a rust-free fleet,'' said one informed Phuket source today. ''The Glenn Marine vessels are immaculately maintained.''
When warships anchor off Phuket and other ports around the region, it's Glenn Marine that provides the transport for docking, for transferring crews to shore and for ferrying them around Phuket.
It's Glenn Marine that facilitates the loading of fresh provisions and the disposal of the trash. The cost of the husbandry service runs into hundreds of millions - hence the American Government's concern at the latest serious accusations of corruption.
Another vital concern is security. Without Glenn Marine being involved in the process, warships would not be able to anchor off Phuket unless the vessels involved passed all US security checks.
''Yes, it's unclear what the future holds for now,'' the informed source said. ''I guess it must be the same in all the ports where US crews take shore leave.''
One option might be to restrict all shore leave to Singapore for now. Glenn Marine has its home base in the island-nation.
Phuketwan revealed exclusively earlier this week that US investigators were on Phuket, pursuing their probe into the allegations.
Today came news of another development with the sacking of Captain Daniel Dusek of the USS Bonhomme Richard, a vessel that has made frequent visits to Phuket since 2001.
According to The Times, naval investigators boarded his ship after his superior officer said he no longer had confidence in Captain Dusek's ability to command.
Although Captain Dusek, the holder of multiple service awards, has not been charged, he is being investigated by the US Justice Department.
Arrested last month were Navy Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, Naval Criminal Investigative Service Supervisory Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau II and contractor Leonard Glenn Francis, the CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd.
No visits by US vessels have been recorded in the 'News' section on the Glenn Marine online site since the end of August.
The last Phuket port call listed is by the USS Higgins from August 8-13. The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and the warship USS Princeton visited in May.