On Sunday, the USS Ronald Reagan and two escort vessels steamed into Da Nang Bay, marking a U.S. aircraft carrier’s third visit to Vietnam since the hostilities ended and the first ever since the COVID-19 pandemic has reportedly ebbed.
The Ronald Reagan — escorted safely by USS Antietam and USS Robert Smalls (guided-missile cruisers) — pulled into port based in Da Nang, where the crew members are set to take part in cultural as well as professional exchanges, community service assignments, and other events, the U.S. Embassy based in Vietnam reported in a news release on Sunday.
Over 5,000 sailors on the USS Ronald Reagan are keen on visiting Da Nang and experiencing Vietnamese culture, as mentioned in the release by the carrier’s skipper, Captain Daryle Cardone. He added that he and the crew are grateful for such an opportunity and the hospitality received from the Vietnamese.
Ronald Reagan joined the aircraft carriers USS Carl Vinson and USS Theodore Roosevelt as the only vessels of their class to make port calls in the nation since the Vietnam War was finally over in 1975. The Carl Vinson made its first visit in 2018, followed by the Theodore Roosevelt in 2020.
The Theodore Roosevelt soon made for Guam after the COVID-19 virus broke out on the carrier in 2020 (March), sickening hundreds and ending the command of skipper Captain Brett Crozier. A Navy examination later indicated that the U.S. sailors picked up the virus at a hotel located in Da Nang.
The Ronald Reagan’s visit took place less than a week after Japan’s helicopter carrier dubbed JS Izumo made its stop at Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam, about 350 miles south of Da Nang, and a month after a Chinese training vessel titled Qi Jiguang made a stop in Da Nang marking a goodwill visit that ended on 25 May.
The Izumo went on to train in the South China Sea with frigate HQ Ly Thai To of the Vietnamese navy on Friday, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force declared on Monday.
China’s training vessel continued to Thailand and later to the Philippines, per China Military Online, a Chinese state-sponsored website on 26 May.
The bond between China and Vietnam has been strained over the recent months with a Chinese research vessel, many Chinese Coast Guard and fishing vessels stepping into Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry stated on 25 May.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam as well as other authorities, have been in constant touch with the Chinese counterparts on several occasions and are now implementing appropriate measures following the Vietnamese and international law to enforce Vietnam’s lawful and legitimate rights and interests, explained spokeswoman Pham Thu Hang, per a transcript of a 25 May press conference.
In the meantime, the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, over a few weeks in the recent past, has reportedly been operating in the South China Sea, including one visit with French liaison officers, at-sea refuelling with ships and many flight sorties, per photographs and press releases received from the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service.
References: Bulgarian Military, Stars & Stripes
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