SATTAHIP, Thailand (NNS) -- U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) along with embarked staff, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12 and Marines from Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team Pacific successfully concluded a three-day visit to Thailand, May 13, strengthening ties and engaging with the local community.
While anchored in the Gulf of Thailand, Blue Ridge crew and 7th Fleet staff delivered toys to children at Pattaya Orphanage and Child Protection and Development Center (CDPDC) while embarked Seventh Fleet staff hosted officers from the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) for staff-to-staff talks.
"We view Thailand as an important ally," said Lt. Reuben Attah, 7th Fleet desk officer for Southeast Asia plans and policy. "Both sides were eager to further exchange and enhance expertise. The RTN left staff talks feeling assured that we'll continue our military-to-military engagements and focus on areas that we deem most important."
The Blue Ridge/7th Fleet First Class Petty Officers Association (FCPOA) sponsored a ship-wide clothing and toy drive in the days leading up to the Thailand visit and donated the gifts to Pattaya Orphanage.
"As a kid I always wanted to share anything I had, and as an adult, with more resources, I feel obligated to help the less fortunate." said Operations Specialist 1st Class Rose Thibodeaux, BLR/C7F FCPOA president. "I can't describe the feeling of seeing the looks of joy on the children's faces when we arrived."
In addition, several chiefs and first class petty officers teamed up for a Chief Petty Officer (CPO) 365 sponsored visit to CDPDC in Pattaya, Thailand bringing some gifts of their own to hand out and to spend time with the children there. CPO 365 is a year-round leadership training environment for first class petty officers working toward advancement to chief petty officer.
"Visiting these kids was honestly the highlight of my visit to Thailand," said Chief Personnel Specialist Kerri Scranton. "We were able to connect with these kids in a real way, from teaching them to jump rope to throwing a Frisbee around, we all had a blast."
The Treaty of Amity and Commerce was signed in 1833, making Thailand, then known as Siam, the United States' oldest ally in Asia. As treaty allies, both countries enjoy the strongest and most enduring commitment two nations can make, forging positive military-to-military relationships based on common interests related to maritime security, counterterrorism, defense trade and security of the global commons.
Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan for 34 years. As the flag ship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Robert L. Thomas, Blue Ridge is vital in maintaining partnerships in the 7th Fleet area of operations.