U.S. aircraft carrier to arrive in Vietnam for historic visit

The USS Carl Vinson arrived in Danang, Vietnam, today, becoming the first aircraft carrier to dock in the country since the Vietnam War ended in 1975. 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 USS Carl Vinson, anchored off Danang, the port city that served as a major staging post for the American war effort in the country, reports The New York Times.

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.

"Through hard work, mutual respect, and by continuing to address the past while we work toward a better future, we have gone from former enemies to close partners", Kritenbrink said in the Navy statement.

The U.S. and Vietnam first announced in January that the USS Carl Vinson would be making a stop in Vietnam, and Hanoi's diplomats have been working to calm their Chinese counterparts ever since.

"Even as it moves forward with the U.S., Vietnam has been engaging China over South China Sea tensions", said Le Hong Hiep, a Vietnam expert at Singapore's ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute.

In an oblique reference to China, India and Vietnam on Sunday reiterated the importance of achieving a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region and agreed to expedite building high-speed patrol boats and early signing of a defence agreement to secure sea lanes in the region.

Under Trump, military cooperation with Hanoi has continued. Washington normalized relations with Vietnam in 1995 and lifted an arms embargo in 2016.

The USS Carl Vinson docked in Manila Bay on February 18.

In this handout provided by the U.S. Navy, the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transits the Sunda Strait on April 14, 2017 in Indonesia.

The South China Sea is off the coast of Vietnam, and that body of water sees $5 trillion in cargo pass through each year.

The Carl Vinson, accompanied by a cruiser and a destroyer, is visiting as China increases its military buildup in the Paracel islands and seven artificial islands in the Spratlys in maritime territory also claimed by Vietnam.

"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.

The United States has long had a robust naval presence in Southeast Asia, in part to ensure the openness of the South China Sea trading routes.

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

The Vietnamese leader was quoted by the Asian Age; "We reaffirm our close collaboration to support India to further its relations and multi-faceted connectivity with ASEAN attaching high importance to the maintenance of security, maritime safety and freedom of navigation and over flight, settlement of disputes by peaceful means on the basis of global law". "By letting the United States battle group in its port, the Vietnamese are telling China that it should take Vietnam into account otherwise it may switch to the American side".

Several Danang residents said Monday that they welcomed the navy visit.

The Vietnam War - which Vietnam calls the American War - was protracted and bloody. "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".

  • Tracy Klein