Two Japanese escort ships arrived at an international seaport in the south-central Vietnamese province of Khanh Hoa on Tuesday to commence their visit to the Southeast Asian country.
The two vessels, JS Ariake and JS Setogiri, carrying 500 crew members of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force docked at Cam Ranh International Seaport in the afternoon.
This is the first visit to the port by the Japanese naval unit, according to Morishita Osamu, commander of the two vessels.
The occasion is aimed at sharpening the skills of Japanese naval officers via an extended sea journey as well as an exchange of activities with their Vietnamese counterparts.
At the welcome ceremony, Japanese Ambassador to Vietnam Fukada Hiroshi read a letter written by Japan's Minister of Defense Gen Nakatani.
Being a free and open maritime area, the East Vietnam Sea plays an essential role in the peace and prosperity of the region, Hiroshi quoted the Japanese minister as saying.
Maintaining the East Vietnam Sea as a tranquil and safe maritime route in accordance with international law has become a top priority in determining stability for the region and the world, according to Minister Nakatani.
He also evaluated the Cam Ranh port favourably, saying that the facility, in its strategic location, would provide vital assistance to the cooperation of civil and military ships from many nations.
The Japanese minister hoped that more visits to the Vietnamese international seaport could be conducted by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in order to further deepen the relationship between Japanese and Vietnamese people, the military, and the two navies in particular.
The visiting naval unit from Japan is scheduled to meet with leaders of the Khanh Hoa People’s Committee and the 4th Regional Command of the Vietnam People’s Navy.
Officers from both two naval forces will also participate in friendly volleyball games.
Following the exchange, officers on the two escort ships are expected to carry out a training session with their Vietnamese counterparts, focusing on exercising the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES).
Weighing 4,550 metric tons, the JS Ariake is 151 meters long and 17.4 meters wide, while the JS Setogiri weighs 3,550 metric tons, is 137 meters long, and measures 14.6 meters wide.
The naval ships are both equipped with multiple artilleries, surface-to-air missiles, and anti-ship missiles.
Prior to the visit to Vietnam, the two vessels, accompanying a submarine, arrived in the Philippines for the first time in 15 years, AFP reported.
Their journey to the two nations started on March 19 and is anticipated to conclude on April 27, according to Osamu.
Japanese Ambassador to Vietnam Fukada Hiroshi at the welcome ceremony. Photo: Tuoi Tre