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LAEM CHABANG, Thailand - After 56-days at sea, the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and her crew of 5,500 Sailors arrived in Laem Chabang, Thailand, Aug. 6 for a well deserved rest and relaxation port visit in the coastal city of Pattaya.
“The crew has worked very hard since we left Japan back in June and they deserve every opportunity to enjoy themselves,” said George Washington’s commanding officer, Capt. David A. Lausman. “I fully expect to see them out in full force shopping, enjoying Thai food and taking tours. They’ve earned it.”
The port call marks the ship’s second visit to the partner nation of Thailand since George Washington arrived in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) in 2008.
During the visit, more than 250 George Washington Sailors will participate in eleven community service (COMSERV) projects to help further the relationship between the U.S. Navy and Thailand. Sailors will also have an opportunity to experience Thai culture through numerous tours offered by the ship’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) program.
“It’s exciting to see how many Sailors have signed up to volunteer their free time ashore helping others,” said Cmdr. Brian Haley, George Washington’s Chaplain. “You’d think with being at sea for so long, they’d want to relax but they’re actually more interested in helping people and making a difference. It’s wonderful to see.”
The COMSERV opportunities will allow Sailors to contribute to the beautification of local schools, temples and pay visits to elderly residents at an area nursing home. “I’m very excited to spend so much time in Thailand. Not only will I do the usual tourist stuff, I’m also going to volunteer my time and participate in a COMSERVE with a local school,” said Information Systems Technician 1st Class (SW) Bobby Anderson, from Houston. “There is so much to do in Pattaya and with as much time as we’re given, I look forward to doing it all. There are elephants to ride, tigers to see, temples to visit and a really cool zip line in the middle of the forest to go on.”
George Washington will also welcome aboard nearly 300 representatives from Thailand and provide them with guided tours of the aircraft carrier. These honored guests include children from a local orphanage and government leaders. The tours serve to educate the public on the inner workings of the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier. “I am thrilled to have people tour our ship. It’s a great opportunity for them to meet our crew and learned about what we do. That’s the secret to securing stability in the region; opening the doors to minimize misunderstanding,” said Lausman.
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.