Submarine could be next Navy vessel to visit Vietnam

Jenna Warner
March 7, 2018

"The visit marks an enormously significant milestone in our bilateral relations and demonstrates U.S. support for a strong, prosperous and independent Vietnam", U.S. Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink said in a statement, adding that the two countries have "gone from former enemies to close partners".

China lays claim to nearly the entire energy-rich and strategically-important South China Sea, but several other nations such as Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have overlapping claims.

Vietnamese envoys had been working for months to ease the concerns of their giant Chinese neighbor over the visit and the prospect of broader security cooperation between Hanoi and Washington, according to diplomats and others familiar with the talks.

A U.S. Navy band will play a concert in Danang during the Vinson's visit, and sailors from the carrier are to spend time at a treatment center for people who were exposed to Agent Orange chemicals during the war.

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier - the USS Carl Vinson - docked in Vietnam as part of a mission to make the Asian nation a new key ally in its anti-China blockade in the South China Sea.

Analysts say the port call, which follows a visit to the Philippines in February, is a chance for the United States to flex its military muscle in Asia.

It underscores the dramatic improvement of overall relations between the United States and Vietnam since communist forces defeated the US -backed South Vietnamese government more than four decades ago and reunified the country.

USS Carl Vinson is anchored at Tien Sa Port in Danang, Vietnam, Monday, March 5, 2018.

USA carriers frequently cross the South China Sea in a rising pattern of naval deployments, and are now routinely shadowed by Chinese naval vessels, naval officers in the region say. -Vietnamese relations have progressed.

According to some analysts, it is this desire not to irritate China and maintain balance and independence that has led Hanoi to limit naval exchanges with the United States despite Washington's offerings and not increase purchases of U.S. weapons despite that during the presidency of Barak Obama -which in 2016 gave the definitive impulse to military, diplomatic and commercial relations between the two countries-, the embargo on sales of lethal weapons imposed in 1984 on his former enemy was lifted.

Analysts say part of the USA strategy is to prevent China from being able to claim the waters within the so-called nine-dashed line are Chinese territorial waters. "I am confident that engagements like this will further expand the comprehensive partnership between the United States and Vietnam".

The Peoples" Friendship University of Russian Federation professor said: "The Americans have begun hammering together a new scheme of deterring China, called the "Quad'". The U.S. has provided Vietnam's coast guard with a cutter, six patrol boats and a training and maintenance facility, with more gear on the way, she said.

That was followed up in January when U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met in Hanoi with Vietnamese Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich, at which time he said the two countries are "like-minded partners" with common interests including respect for worldwide law.

The first US Marines arrived in Danang in 1965, marking the beginning of large-scale American involvement in the war, which ended in 1975 with the North's victory, reunifying the country.

Da Nang, which was a major USA military base during the war, is now Vietnam's third-largest city and is in the midst of a construction boom as dozens of resorts and hotels pop up along its scenic coastline.

The Navy will work to normalize tries to its Vietnamese counterpart, he said.

"I'm very happy and excited with the carrier's visit", he said.

Other reports by Insurance News

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