The USS George Washington aircraft carrier and other ships were deployed to the area on October 16 for potential disaster relief work as Thailand faced massive flooding from monsoon rains, said Navy spokesman Lieutenant Commander John Perkins.
But the US military never received a formal request from the Thai government and the three-ship aircraft carrier group along with a fourth ship, the USS Kidd, were released and left the area on Friday, said Perkins, spokesman for the US Pacific Fleet based in Hawaii.
“We are ready to help but we haven’t got a request,” said a US defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“There were two channels (in the Thai government),” the defense official told AFP. “One was saying ‘Yes’ and one was saying ‘No.’”
The Thai capital on Monday was bracing for advancing and seemingly unstoppable floodwaters after residents in areas deemed most at threat were urged to leave.
Other parts of the country have been plagued by three months of heavy monsoon rains that have killed more than 350 people in Thailand and damaged the homes and livelihoods of nine million people.
On October 15, a small ten-man team of US Marines traveled to Thailand to deliver thousands of sandbags and to assess how the American military could help with relief efforts.
The USS George Washington group had arrived at the port of Singapore on October 12 and four days later the carrier was steaming towards Thailand “to position itself in case their assistance was requested,” Perkins said.
A fourth ship, the USS Kidd, which was carrying out an exercise with Cambodian forces, also was ordered to join the carrier group near Thailand, he said.
The USS George Washington is now en route to Japan for an annual joint exercise there.
For humanitarian work, the United States often deploys warships, including aircraft carriers, which can operate fleets of helicopters and ferry in emergency medical teams and supplies.