US coast guard promises long-term, tight cooperation with Vietnam

By Khanh Lynh   June 11, 2019 | 05:29 am PT
US coast guard promises long-term, tight cooperation with Vietnam
The Hamilton-class patrol boat that the U.S. transferred to Vietnam in 2017. Photo courtesy of the Vietnam Coast Guard.
The U.S. Coast Guard will continue cooperating with its Vietnamese counterpart, providing ships and training, its top official said Tuesday.

The U.S. continues to hold its relationship with Vietnam in high regard and believes that maintaining regular exchange between the two will benefit both sides, Vice Admiral Linda Fagan, Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard's (USCG) Pacific Area, told VnExpress.

The U.S. sent Vietnam a Hamilton-class patrol boat, a high endurance cutter named the USCGC Morgenthau, in 2017.

"Aside from providing the patrol boat to the Vietnam Coast Guard, the USCG had also offered training courses to help Vietnam maintain the ship’s operations."

"This is a strong and long-term commitment of the USCG to Vietnam," Fagan said.

Before handing over the USCGC Morgenthau, which has been renamed CSB 8020 by the Vietnam Coast Guard, the U.S. had trained Vietnamese coast guards in Hawaii.

Regarding the possibility of the U.S. transferring one more Hamilton-class patrol boat to Vietnam, Fagan said the two sides are working on the matter and the exchanges have been positive. The final result remains unknown.

U.S. media had previously reported that USCG had decommissioned offshore patrol boat USCGC Sherman of the Hamilton class in March last year and it is expected that the ship will be transferred to Vietnam.

In a letter sent to the U.S. Senate in February this year, Admiral Philip Davidson, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, said Vietnam shares many of the U.S.’s principles on issues such as international rule of law and freedom of navigation, and Vietnam is one of the loudest voices on South China Sea disputes.

Vietnam calls the South China Sea the East Sea.

Davidson said the engagements between the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and the Vietnamese military prioritize enhancing Vietnam’s maritime capacity, which will be bolstered by Vietnam’s acquisition of Scan Eagle UAVs, T-6 trainer aircraft, and a second U.S. Coast Guard cutter.

Regarding the role of the U.S. in the South China Sea, Fagan affirmed that the U.S. has dispatched ships to conduct maritime freedom patrol campaigns in the region to ensure that the Indo-Pacific region remains peaceful, secure, open and free.

The U.S. is interested in cooperating with regional partners and wants to talk to countries that are having problems with law enforcement in their exclusive economic zone, supporting them in preventing illegal fishing and protecting sovereignty, she said.

In signs of strengthening military cooperation, Vietnam sealed a deal to buy six unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) from Boeing, the U.S. Department of Defense said early this month.

Just last week, Dang Duc Toai became the first Vietnamese military pilot to graduate from the U.S. Air Force’s Aviation Leadership Program, and the second one will finish the program soon.

In April, the U.S. gave six fast-response Metal Shark patrol boats to Vietnam Coast Guard Region 3 in the central region.

Six Metal Shark patrol boats were delivered in March last year, when the USS Carl Vinson arrived in Da Nang on a historic visit, the first to Vietnam by an American aircraft carrier since 1975.

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