US aircraft carrier in Vietnam for historic visit

US aircraft carrier in Vietnam for historic visit

It far outstrips China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, in terms of fighting power and makes for a much more impressive show of force than other American naval vessels that have made port in Vietnam.

"Our nations' relationship has reached new heights in the past few years, and the USS Carl Vinson's port visit to Vietnam is a reflection of that", said US Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift.

The visit of an aircraft carrier - a more than 100,000-ton manifestation of USA global military projection - reaffirms closer relations as Beijing flexes it political, economic and military muscle in Southeast Asia, and Washington seeks to re-establish its influence.

"Through hard work, mutual respect, and by continuing to address the past while we work toward a better future, we have gone from former enemies to close partners", Kritenbrink said in the Navy statement.

The 95,000-tonne carrier is expected to anchor two nautical miles off the port of Da Nang, which was a key battleground during the war that ended in 1975.

"They demonstrate our commitment to regional prosperity and stability", he said.

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

In recent years, the United States and Vietnam have worked to improve relations that were normalized in 1995.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis laid the groundwork for the Carl Vinson's visit in a trip to Vietnam shortly afterward.

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In this handout provided by the U.S. Navy, the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transits the Sunda Strait on April 14, 2017 in Indonesia.

Hailing the "dramatic progress" in that relationship, U.S. ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink said the visit underscored United States commitment to the region and to Vietnam in particular.

He added that the countries have overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea and a history of military conflicts, including the Sino-Vietnamese border war of 1979, in which both sides claim victory.

The Carl Vinson strike group will begin its four day port call in Da Nang Monday.

"I do not think it's too late to forestall further militarization, but I think we need to have a comprehensive - and not just a military - strategy for how to deal with this".

Danang was a major U.S. military base during the Vietnam War.

Though the not a claimant to the resource-rich waterway, it has long lobbied for freedom of navigation in the sea to counter China's growing influence.

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".

Several Danang residents said Monday that they welcomed the Navy's visit. "Besides, the Americans have a habit of screwing up their allies as they did to the South Vietnamese authorities in the end of the Vietnam War", he added. "Increased cooperation between the two countries in economic, diplomatic and military areas would serve as a counterbalance to Beijing's expansionism".