Two warships of the U.S. Seventh Fleet arrived in Vietnam on Monday for annual naval exchange activities with the local naval forces, including the practice of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES).
USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) are docking at Tien Sa Port in the central city of Da Nang for the sixth annual Naval Engagement Activity (NEA) with the Vietnam People’s Navy, according to the official website of the United States Navy.
The officer in charge of these ships is Captain Le Ba Hung, deputy commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7.
Hung, a Vietnamese-American, commanded guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) when it visited Da Nang in November 2009.
Littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) docks at Tien Sa Port, Da Nang, on April 6, 2015. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Captain Le Ba Hung (R), deputy commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, is the officer in charge of the two visiting U.S. warships. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Representatives of Naval Zone 3 in Da Nang received Hung and the crew of the two warships.
Besides Fitzgerald and Fort Worth, U.S. units participating in the 2015 NEA include personnel from CTF 73, DESRON 7, Undersea Rescue Activity San Diego, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5, and the U.S. 7th Fleet Band "Orient Express," the U.S. Navy said on its website on Monday.
This five-day collaboration, as both nations celebrate the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2015, will include non-combatant events and skills exchanges in military medicine, search and rescue, and maritime security.
Ships from both navies will also practice the CUES and ship handling.
An unmanned aircraft is seen on board littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3). Photo: Tuoi Tre
Expert exchanges between the two sides will be centered on maritime domain awareness, shipboard damage control, and submarine rescue. In addition, legal symposia, band concerts, community service events, and team sports will also be held during this NEA. At a press briefing yesterday, Hung said, “It's great to be back in Vietnam for the second time, and we're very much looking forward to working with our Vietnamese Navy counterparts over the next five days."
He added that one of the most significant activities will be the opportunity to conduct CUES exchanges underway, which will help both navies prevent miscommunication at sea and foster mutual understanding.
A helicopter of the U.S. Navy is seen aboard littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Regarding his return to Vietnam and his love for his homeland, Colonel Hung said, “Vietnam is part of my heart.” The first NEA began more than a decade ago, when guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) was the first U.S. Navy ship to visit Da Nang, July 28, 2004. Most recently, USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), also a guided-missile destroyer, and rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard visited the city on April 7, 2014 for a six-day visit under the 5th NEA.
Hanoi and Washington normalized their diplomatic relations in 1995, twenty years after the end of the war.
The cabin of littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth. Photo: Tuoi Tre