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Port Royal, Hopper, Ingraham Visit Phuket, Thailand

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080410-01
Release Date: 4/10/2008 5:58:00 AM

By Ensign Cassidy Rasmussen, USS Port Royal Public Affairs

PHUKET, Thailand (NNS) -- Guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73), guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) and guided-missile frigate USS Ingraham (FFG 61) "set sail" concluding a successful port visit to Phuket on April 7.

While in port, Sailors met local citizens, experienced local customs and traditions, and enjoyed the many recreational activities offered in Phuket. For a few Sailors, however, rest and recreation were not the only activities on the schedule.

On April 4, Sailors from Port Royal and Ingraham volunteered for a special project with Kamala Elementary School in Phuket, which provides English language education to local children. The school was one of countless buildings destroyed in 2004 when a tsunami demolished most of Patong Beach.

"The school has basically been rebuilt from the ground up in four years," said Port Royal Chief Fire Controlman Jonathan Scott, who helped to organize the event. "Our job in four hours was to refurbish 110 desks. It's a miracle we accomplished that much, but the school itself is a miracle."

"When the children saw the desks, they all smiled and gave us a thumbs-up," said Lt. Mark Haley, a chaplain who ministers to all three ships.

Port Royal and Ingraham worked with the "Phuket Has Been Good to Us" Foundation, which is sponsored by the Patong Rotary Club and is designated as the local host in Phuket for arranging community relations events with visiting U.S. Navy ships.

"We accomplished a lot, but our primary mission was just to interact with people and spread goodwill," said Scott. "The school benefited from our labor, but we also benefited from the opportunity to interact with the children and do some good."

Port Royal, Ingraham and Hopper are part of the Tarawa Expeditionary Strike Group, and are on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. Operating in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, the U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest of forward deployed U.S. fleets, with approximately 50 ships, 120 aircraft, and 20,000 Sailors and Marines assigned at any given time.

For more information, visit the U.S. 7th Fleet website at www.c7f.navy.mil.

For more news from Tarawa Expeditionary Strike Group visit www.navy.mil/local/tarawaesg/.



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