Joint naval drill with China, ASEAN will enhance Vietnam’s capabilities

By Khanh Lynh   October 25, 2018 | 07:41 pm PT
Joint naval drill with China, ASEAN will enhance Vietnam’s capabilities
Vietnamese navy ship Tran Hung Dao (L) docks near Chinese navy ships at a military port in Zhanjiang, in China's southern Guangdong Province on October 22, 2018. Photo by SRT/via AFP
Vietnam is looking to share experiences and enhance its naval capabilities with participation in the ongoing China-ASEAN drill.

"This is a cooperative activity to exchange and learn from each other's experiences, as well as to enhance naval capabilities of ASEAN nations and China," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said at a press conference Thursday.

The first ever ASEAN-China maritime exercise was launched on Monday with the participation of eight warships, including Vietnamese frigate 015 Tran Hung Dao, and 1,200 soldiers. The drill, taking place off the coast of Zhanjiang City in China's Guangdong Province, is an event aimed at increasing stability and relieving tension in the region.

In addition to Vietnamese and Chinese navies, naval ships from Singapore, Brunei, Thailand and the Philippines are also participating in the drill, while Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar have sent observers to the event.

This year's exercise includes tactical drills, mapping, field and ship formation exercises. The Vietnamese crew will also get to enjoy entertainment events including sports and cultural exchanges with sailors from other Southeast Asian countries and China.

The drill is scheduled to last till Friday.

Prior to its participation in the China event, the 015 Tran Hung Dao made port calls in Japan and South Korea as part of a 9,300-kilometer long journey beginning last month. The voyage was the longest that any Vietnamese naval has undertaken.

In South Korea, the frigate participated in an international parade at sea with warships from 12 other countries, including the U.S., Russia and India.

In addition to the foreign exchange activities, the journey has also helped Vietnamese navy assess the commanding capability, weapon operation skills and technical equipment, military officials said.

The 015 Tran Hung Dao is a Gepard-class frigate built by Russia for the Vietnam People's Navy and commissioned in February this year. It is equipped with stealth technology, angular shells and radar absorption paint to minimize radar reflectivity upon facing enemy surveillance systems, as well as jamming and modern electronic warfare systems.

Following the joint naval exercise with China, ASEAN members have agreed to hold the association's first ever naval exercise with the U.S. next year, according to Singaporean Defense Minister Ng Eng Sen. The time and location of this joint exercise is yet to be determined.

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