PHUKET, Thailand – The amphibious transport dock ship USS New
Orleans (LPD 18), the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor
(LSD 52), along with embarked Marines assigned to the 11th Marine
Expeditionary Unit (MEU), arrived in Phuket, Thailand for a port
visit May 14.
USS Pearl Harbor Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Homer Denius, said the
visit is a welcomed break for the Sailors and Marines aboard.
“It’s a chance for our Sailors and Marines to experience the
incredible culture of Thailand, in the spirit of goodwill and
friendship,” said Denius.
This will be Denius’s first visit to Phuket, although he has visited
“I look forward to expanding my experience of Thailand in Phuket,”
he said. “I know our Sailors and Marines are going to enjoy
participating in community service projects, taking tours, shopping
in the markets and meeting the friendly people.”
Denius will also visit with members of Thailand’s navy and other
local officials during the visit.
“Thailand is the United States’ oldest friend in Asia and it’s
important that we continue to foster this close relationship,” he
said. “These close ties allow us to understand both of our country’s
interests and find more common ground to expand our friendship.”
Commanding Officer of Pearl Harbor’s embarked Combat Logistics
Battalion 11, Lt. Col. Andrew Bergen, echoed the thoughts of Denius.
"We are excited to learn about the culture and enjoy Thailand, a
beautiful land with which the United States has a friendship dating
to early 1800s,” said Bergen. “We hope to make new friends and
strengthen the bonds we have through community relations projects
and when enjoying some time off in this wonderful country."
Community service activities will include painting at the Soi Dog
Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that helps homeless,
neglected and abused dogs and cats, as well as doing minor facility
repair and painting at the Home & Life Orphanage and a local
"We have some great opportunities to be good ambassadors, I think
it’s really important to see out side of the place we’re going to
visit," said Lt. Daniel Spies, a Navy chaplain assigned to the 11th
MEU embarked aboard New Orleans. “It’ll take us off the beaten path
of all the tourist trails and give us an opportunity to what some of
these organizations are doing for the local community.”
In addition to the community service projects, Sailors and Marines
will experience Thai culture through tours offered by the ship's
morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) department.
MWR tours will feature a variety of options showcasing the country's
culture and landscape. Tours included area trip to Phuket’s Wat
Chalong monestary, a day long big fishing adventure in Chalong bay
and an elephant ride through the rain forest.
“Thailand is one of my favorite ports to visit, I’ve been here five
times,” said Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Jomel
Jones, a New Orleans Sailor. “Every time I go, I always have a great
time. It’s a beautiful country with great beaches, friendly people
and outstanding food.”
New Orleans and Pearl Harbor, along with the embarked 11th MEU are
part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, which is deployed
to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.