The port visit demonstrated the United States’ commitment to regional partnerships, and helped foster growing relationships, as well as offered Sailors the opportunity to relax and enjoy the culture, cuisine and exotic attractions of Thailand.
“Everyone in Higgins was excited to visit Thailand and our stop in Sattahip exceeded all expectations,” said Cmdr. Joseph McGettigan, commanding officer of the USS Higgins. “The Commander of the Royal Thai Fleet was a gracious host and took fantastic care of Higgins and our Canadian and Australian counterparts. It was an honor to spend time with representatives of the Royal Thai Fleet and to deepen our relationship with one of our oldest allies in the region. The crew also got to rest for a few days and explore Thailand’s amazing food and culture.
While in port, crew members had the opportunity to participate in tours sponsored by the Moral, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) department of Higgins, including a tiger park, elephant rides and snorkeling.
“We wanted to make sure that the crew had options to choose from so they had the opportunity to see as much of Thailand as possible in the short time we were there,” said Daniela Kobayashi, President of the MWR of Higgins, Navy Counselor 1st Class. “We all have a busy workload when we are at sea which makes it difficult to plan how we are going to spend our time in port. Just being able to sign up for a pre-planned tour or trip made it easy for sailors to see all the exciting things Thailand has to offer. We received excellent feedback from everyone who participated.
The Church Program onboard Higgins, led by Higgins Chaplain, Lt. Matthew Moynihan, hosted three community relations events (COMREL) that sailors participated in during the port visit.
The sailors were able to spend time laughing and playing with the children of the Drop-In Center, one of the projects of the Human Help Foundation in Pattaya which receives around 85 children a day from neighboring countries whose parents are day laborers in Thailand. ; the Child Welfare and Development Center, a local orphanage dedicated to caring for displaced children, orphans and trafficked children; and the Father Ray Foundation, an organization committed to nurturing, protecting and safeguarding children and young people, and which cares for and educates 850 underprivileged children and students with disabilities.
“COMRELs offer our sailors the opportunity to care for and serve the people of our host nation, as well as the chance to be introduced to this beautiful country and see it and its people through new eyes. “, said Lt. Matthew Moynihan, chaplain of the command. “Events like these allow us to put a face to those we want to protect. This weekend, those faces were the wonderful children we supported. We played outdoor games and led them in a “Junior Sailor” qualifying event. At the end, we presented each child with a certificate granting them the honorary rank of junior sailor. Our crew now leaves here with a greater awareness of the impact of their work and a new appreciation for the Thai people and nation.
Higgins is assigned to Commander Task Force 71 / Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the largest forward deployed DESRON in the Navy and the principal surface force of the U.S. 7th Fleet.
The U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest forward deployed fleet in the world, and with the help of a network of alliances and partners from 35 other maritime nations, the U.S. Navy has operated in the Indo-Pacific region for over 70 years, providing credible and ready forces to help preserve peace and prevent conflict.