Navy aircraft carrier set for historic port visit to Vietnam

US carrier Carl Vinson docks in Danang for 1st time since Vietnam War

A USA aircraft carrier has arrived at a Vietnamese port for the first time since the end of the Vietnam War more than forty years ago, according to media reports. This signals that the rise in China's influence and economy, which is bringing together countries who were previously foes and creating huge changes in the areas geopolitical landscape.

The silhouette of the USS Carl Vinson is seen yesterday from the Vietnamese city of Danang, where the 103,000-tonne aircraft carrier and two other United States ships began a five-day visit.

The U.S. avoided the potentially more provocative choice of having the Carl Vinson visit Cam Ranh Bay to the south, which is closer to the Spratly Islands, whose sovereignty is disputed among parties including Vietnam and China.

"We hope to continue the same issue that we've always had".

The Carl Vinson carries over 5,000 sailors, which is the largest contingent of American soldiers to land in Vietnam since US troops withdrew in 1975.

"The Philippines has just rolled over, China is continually militarizing and if the U.S. doesn't maintain a presence in the region, Vietnam's got nowhere to hide", Thayer said.

The first U.S. Marines arrived in Danang in 1965, marking the beginning of large-scale American involvement in the Vietnam War.

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US carriers frequently ply the South China Sea in a rising pattern of naval deployments, and are now routinely followed by Chinese naval vessels, naval officers in the region say. The U.S. aims for the two nations to overcome their past and greatly increase defense cooperation, according to a source familiar with the Defense Department.

"By spoiling relations with China, Vietnam will get nothing".

The Carl Vinson is filling in for the Japan-based USS Ronald Reagan, the Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier.

"This is a historic day and we are honored to receive such a warm welcome here", Rear Adm. John Fuller, the strike group commander, said in a statement.

As a matter of national security doctrine, the fiercely independent Vietnam has adopted a "three no's" policy of non-alignment with one power bloc against another, non-hosting of foreign military bases on its soil, and non-alliance with and dependence on any external power.

"The visit marks an enormously significant milestone in our bilateral relations and demonstrates United States support for a strong, prosperous, and independent Vietnam", declared Daniel Kritenbrink, the USA ambassador to Vietnam. "I am confident that engagements like this will further expand the comprehensive partnership between the United States and Vietnam". The U.S. has also said the passage must remain open to maritime traffic and has conducted several so-called freedom of navigation exercises aimed at ensuring it is. Some 58,000 American soldiers and an estimated 3 million Vietnamese were killed in the war. "Now the aircraft carrier comes with a completely different mission, a mission of peace and promoting economic and military co-operation between the two countries".

Huynh Quang Nguyen, a taxi driver, echoed the sentiment.


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