An ongoing visit by an aircraft carrier-led group of U.S. Navy ships to the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang represents an extraordinarily significant milestone in the two countries’ bilateral relations, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink has underlined.
The naval ships, including the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain, and missile destroyer USS Wayne E Meyer, arrived in Da Nang waters on Monday, beginning a landmark five-day visit to the Vietnamese port city.
“The visit marks an enormously significant milestone in our bilateral relations and demonstrates U.S. support for a strong, prosperous, and independent Vietnam,” Ambassador Kritenbrink said in a statement.
“Through hard work, mutual respect, and by continuing to address the past while we work towards a better future, we have gone from former adversaries to close partners.”
Upon arrival in Da Nang, Vice Admiral Sawyer, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, Rear Admiral John V. Fuller, commander of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group, and captains and sailors of the ships took to the mainland for an official welcome ceremony by the Vietnamese side.
The reception was chaired by Lam Quang Minh, director of the Da Nang Department of Foreign Affairs, and attended by officers from the Military Zone 5 High Command, the High Command of the Naval Zone 3, and representatives from the U.S. Embassy and agencies in Vietnam.
|Nguyen Quang Vinh (L), deputy head of the foreign affair department under Vietnam’s defense ministry, shakes hands with Vice Admiral Phillips G. Sawyer, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, at a reception at Tien Sa Port in Da Nang on March 5, 2018. Photo: Nguyen Khanh/Tuoi Tre|
Minh and Vice Admiral Sawyer then co-chaired a press conference to introduce the visit’s agenda.
Minh said the U.S. and Vietnam have had successful cooperation in the Pacific Partnership programs in recent years, adding that the USS Carl Vinson port call adds significance to the relationship between Da Nang and the U.S., as well as Vietnam-U.S. ties.
“The visit is a chance to show off the possibility of logistics supplying and services of Da Nang,” he added.
Following the welcome ceremony, Ambassador Kritenbrink attended “Meet the U.S.A.,” a trade conference held by the American Chamber of Industry and Trade in Vietnam and the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam, on the sidelines of the aircraft carrier visit.
At the meeting, the U.S. ambassador said the USS Carl Vinson port call marked a new milestone not only in defense cooperation, but also in trade ties as it has opened up new economic opportunities for Vietnam and the U.S.
|Vietnamese defense officials greet leaders from the USS Carl Vinson at the welcome ceremony in Da Nang City, central Vietnam, on March 5, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
The two countries have seen their bilateral trade rapport rise more than 100 times over the last two decades, according to the ambassador.
Kritenbrink noted that a third of the global waterway trade passes through the East Vietnam Sea, and the USS Carl Vinson visit demonstrates the U.S. commitment to ensuring freedom of navigation in regional and global waters.
AmCham Vietnam chairman Michael Kelly told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that he is excited at the aircraft carrier port call.
The visit will send a message to regional countries that freedom of navigation is important and good for trade, he added.
|A USS Carl Vinson soldier leaves the aircraft carrier for a passenger ship to reach mainland Da Nang on March 5, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre|