US navy renews call for ship visits to Vietnam

Reuters-Thanh Nien News

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US navy renews call for ship visits to Vietnam

A Vietnamese naval delegation on board the guided missile destroyer USS John McCain during a visit by two US naval ships to Vietnam's Tien Sa Port in April 2014 

The Seventh Fleet, which guards US interests in the Pacific, restated its desire for stronger naval ties with Vietnam in a statement sent to Reuters on Thursday.
"We are interested in engaging with all our partners in the South China Sea and would welcome increased port visits with Vietnam," fleet spokesman Commander William Marks said in an emailed response to questions about US naval relations with Vietnam.
The United States and Vietnam have been gradually deepening military ties, but Hanoi has so far limited US port calls to one visit of up to three ships each year.
Vietnamese military officials say they are intensifying talks with U.S. counterparts over deeper naval engagement.
"We're talking to U.S. but it is too early to say how the tensions now will change our approach," one Vietnamese military source said. "We have a lot to consider."
Vietnam has broadened a host of military relationships in recent years, most notably with Russia, and India.
The US navy is also keen for more extensive exercises with Vietnam's expanding navy, which now includes state-of-the-art Russian-built ships and Kilo-class submarines.
A search-and-rescue exercise off Vietnam's central coast last year marked the first time ships from the two navies had maneuvered together.
"Any time we can increase the complexity of an exercise, it improves the communication and interoperability between our navies," Marks said.
"The overall goal is improved security and stability in the region, and working together is a big part of that."

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