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LAEM CHABANG, Thailand - With a giant American and Thai flag serving as a patriotic backdrop, more than 350 distinguished guests attended a reception aboard the Navy’s only fulltime forward deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN73) as the ship spent its first evening in Laem Chabang, Thailand. The American delegations, lead by the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, Kristie Kenney, Aug. 6.
In a speech to those in attendance, Ambassador Kenney praised the service of George Washington’s crew and reflected upon the friendship between Thailand and the U.S.
“Tonight is a great chance to celebrate our friendship.” Kenney said, “You’re here on a little piece of America surrounded by a great deal of Thailand, I can’t think of anything nicer.”
George Washington is in Thailand for a five day port visit after completing 56 days at sea. The carrier just completed the exercise Talisman Sabre 2011 off the coast of Australia. The reception served as an opportunity to celebrate its success down under while affirming the alliance between the U.S. and its host nation of Thailand.
George Washington’s commanding officer, Capt. David A. Lausman, emphasized during the ceremony’s opening remarks that the ship’s visit is just one way the two nations continue to build on their longstanding friendship.
“During our port visit you will see our Sailors out in your communities painting schools and visiting the elderly,” said Lausman. “They want to learn about your culture and customs and help wherever they can. They represent everything good about our nation and I hope you get the chance to talk with them.”
Raising a glass of champagne and toasting those in attendance, Rear Adm. J.R. Haley, commander of Task Force 70, commended the Royal Thai Navy for their professionalism and dedication to service.
“We work very closely with the Thai Navy, from counter-piracy missions to humanitarian assistance and saving lives,” said Haley., adding that being able to work so closely with the Thai Navy is one of the best things about his job.
During the two-hour reception, guests mingled with the crew and toured the ship learning about how the U.S. Navy operates at sea.
“The Sailors you see serving you tonight are the same Sailors that work eighteen hour days launching aircraft or building bombs or working in the hospital,” said Haley, who mirrored earlier comments from GW’s commanding officer that their Sailor’s were the “real secret weapon.”
George Washington returned to patrolling the waters of the Western Pacific on June 12, 2011, departing her forward operating base of Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka. Onboard are more than 5,500 Sailors from George Washington and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5. George Washington’s mission is to ensure security and stability in the 7th Fleet AOR and to be in position to work with our allies and regional partners to respond to any crisis across the operational spectrum as directed.