(Via Ho’okele News)
Story and photo by MC2 Tiarra Fulgham
Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Detachment Hawaii
Vice Adm. Pongthep Nhuthep, assistant chief of staff for operations for the Royal Thai Navy, visited Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on April 1 for an official tour of the guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73) and the Surface Warfare Officers School Engineering Learning Site Pearl Harbor (SWOS ELS).
Pongthep came to Hawaii to attend the Transnational Security Cooperation (TSC) course at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu.
While on Oahu, he visited Port Royal where he was greeted by the ship’s commanding officer, operations officer and the navigation officer. While aboard he was given a guided tour that included the ship’s foc’sle, pilot-house, combat information center and the central control station.
“The beauty of this visit is in how we can join the bridge together in future operations,” Pongthep said. “Even though there are a lot of training costs involved, they have a good potential to improve the operability of everything.”
“We have a very close relationship between the U.S. Navy and Thai Navy,” he said.
Joining the tour was Lt. Cmdr. Jimmy Wang from Commander, Pacific Fleet, Plans and Policy office.
“The U.S. military relationship with the Thai military is based on a security alliance and many years of cooperation. This relationship is mutually beneficial,” Wang said.
“The captain of USS Port Royal briefed the vice admiral on the history of the ship and her participation in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012. The vice admiral was very impressed with the ship and her crew and was grateful for the hospitality,” he said.
During his visit, Pongthep received a guided tour of the SWOS, learning site facilities including multiple demonstrations of firefighting in an aviation trainer, main machinery room and a demonstration of the wet trainer.
“We are an ally with the Royal Thai Navy and we are building those relationships for the strategic position of the U.S. Navy and global stability,” said Senior Chief Damage Controlman Chris Salzer, senior enlisted leader for SWOS.
“Our job here is to teach basic damage control and to give the vice admiral of the Thai navy an experience of what we do here, showing the unity and teamwork that hopefully carries on all the way through the Navy on both sides.”
The mission of the Surface Warfare Officers School is to provide a continuum of professional education and training in support of surface navy requirements that prepares officers and enlisted engineers to serve at sea. The SWOS ELS offers different trainers and simulators to provide students the ability to practice what they have learned in the classroom.
The U.S. Navy and Royal Thai Navy have been treaty allies for more than 180 years, security allies since the end of World War II and have participated together in multiple maritime exercises such as Cobra Gold, Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) and Guardian Sea.