Two US Navy ships Friday practiced new rules for maritime conduct with Vietnamese naval forces in the East Sea -- the Vietnamese term for the South China Sea -- to ensure safe communication when they meet again.
Littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth and guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald practiced with Vietnamese ships the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, or CUES, as they wrapped up a five-day exchange visit to Vietnam.
Secretary of the US Navy Ray Mabus, who visited Vietnam on the occasion, underscored the first-ever visit by littoral combat ships (LCS) to Vietnam.
“LCS is now a fixture in the 7th Fleet,” he said Thursday in a statement.
“The opportunity for Fort Worth and Fitzgerald to get underway together with the Vietnam People’s Navy will build confidence and ensure safe communication when our ships meet again on the seas.”
Ted Osius, the US ambassador to Vietnam, who accompanied Mabus to the central city of Da Nang, said: “I am immensely proud of how far our two navies have come since 2003, when we conducted our very first US Navy goodwill and friendship port call in Vietnam.
“It took vision, hard work, and most of all, trust, to get us to this point. If we have learned anything over the past 20 years, it’s that nothing is impossible.”
CUES was ratified unanimously by 25 Asia-Pacific countries at the 14th Western Pacific Naval Symposium in 2014.
The set of protocols, designed to improve understanding and build confidence between navies, consists of standardized phrases for naval vessels and aircraft to use in unexpected encounters, with the aim of preventing any tensions from escalating into conflict.