USA aircraft carrier Carl Vinson in historic Vietnam visit

06 March, 2018, 02:00 | Author: Brian Mcdaniel
  • USS Carl Vinson

Danang is the city where 3,500 Marines landed in March 1965 as the first American ground troops in the Vietnam War. The docking of the vast vessel, which can support up to 90 aircraft, will represent the largest U.S. military presence in Vietnam since the end of many years of bitter conflict and after the country was unified in 1975.

The Carl Vinson's sailors will visit a treatment center for victims affected by the chemical defoliant Agent Orange during the war, and a Navy band will perform a concert in Da Nang. Washington normalized relations with Vietnam in 1995 and lifted an arms embargo in 2016.

During the four-day port call, USA sailors will play basketball and soccer with Vietnamese counterparts in addition to visiting an orphanage and a center for victims of Agent Orange, the toxic chemical compound used by the United States during the conflict to destroy jungle and forest.

Cultural exchanges are planned during the Carl Vinson's stay through Friday, and some of the carrier's crew will visit memorials to those who died from American use of the herbicide Agent Orange during the war, according to USA news media.

Analysts say the USS Carl Vinson's landmark visit also sends a signal to China, whose aggressive land reclamation and military buildup activities in the South China Sea have alarmed smaller regional neighbors and represent an increasing challenge to US naval dominance in the Pacific.

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In July 2016, an worldwide court ruled that the so-called "nine-dash line"-a demarcation line China uses to lay claim to parts of the South China Sea-is inconsistent with global laws governing maritime resources".

Separately from this week's mission, US officials have said American warships would continue sailing without prior notice close to the China-occupied islands and atolls, an aggressive way of signaling to Beijing that it does not recognize its sovereignty over those areas.

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.

"It's a United States demonstrate a massive naval presence in the South China Sea area to China, that the U.S. is staying engaged", Vietnam expert Carl Thayer told AFP ahead of the trip.

They also engaged in exchanges with the crew members to enhance mutual understanding in the spirit of the bilateral Comprehensive Partnership and as an effort to maintain peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world. In this way Hanoi aims to deepen the stakes of other major powers in protecting its resources and maritime claims in the South China Sea. In particular, Vietnam claims the Paracel and Spratly islands, where China have been stepping up its military assertions in the past years. In 2014, Beijing deployed an oil rig in disputed waters near Vietnam, which led to a standoff between naval vessels and sparked violent anti-China demonstrations in Vietnam. Vietnam remains the most vocal claimant in the region after the Philippines backed off under China-friendly President Rodrigo Duterte.



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