The U.S. handed off a significant military package, including six brand-new fast-response Metal Shark patrol boats, to the Vietnam Coast Guard during a ceremony on Phu Quoc Island off southern Vietnam on Thursday.
The transfer formed part of the innaugral visit made by Vice Admiral Fred M. Midgette, Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area, to the Southeast Asian country, the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi said in a press release.
Vice Admiral Midgette is responsible for all U.S. Coast Guard missions within the half of the world that ranges from the waterways within the Rocky Mountains in North America to the waters off the East Coast of Africa.
Aside from the patrol boats, the package was comprised of US$20 million worth of infrastructure and equipment, including a training center, maintenance facility, boat lift, vehicles, and a navigation simulator.
|The fast-response Metal Shark boats the U.S. handed over to Vietnam are seen on Phu Quoc Island, off southern Vietnam. Photo: U.S. Embassy in Hanoi|
Vice Admiral Midgette and several other U.S. officials oversaw the handover at Vietnam’s Coast Guard Region 4 station on Phu Quoc, the farthest southwestern territory of Vietnam.
The transfer marks “another significant milestone in the bolstering partnership between the U.S. and Vietnam,” and demonstrates U.S. support for “a strong, prosperous, and independent Vietnam” that contributes to international security and the rule of law.
“This fall, we plan to break ground on the Region 3 facility in Vung Tau,” U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Dan Kritenbrink remarked, hailing that this is “a truly exciting moment” in the fruitful U.S.–Vietnam partnership.
|U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink (fourth from right) poses for a photo with Vietnamese coast guard officers. Photo: U.S. Embassy in Hanoi|
Smuggling, illicit trafficking, piracy and armed robbery on the high seas, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, and environmental degradation are just a few of the maritime-related global challenges currently facing Vietnam.
The Metal Shark boats, capable of reaching up to 50 knots (92.6 kph), are a much needed tool to aide the country in mitigating some of these threats.
The transfer is another prime example of the escalating bilateral partnership between the United States and Vietnam – following on the heels of back-to-back U.S. presidential visits to the Southeast Asian country from President Obama in 2016 and President Trump in 2017.
U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis also held several meetings in the country in January 2018 and a historic visit from U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson took place at the beginning of this month.