Vietnam warship leaves for first US-ASEAN maritime drill

By Nguyen Tien    September 2, 2019 | 12:44 am PT
Vietnam warship leaves for first US-ASEAN maritime drill
The submarine hunting battleship No.18 leaves Vietnam's coastline, September 1, 2019. Photo courtesy of the Vietnam's Navy.
A submarine hunting battleship of the Vietnam Navy left on Sunday to join a U.S.-ASEAN maritime drill in Thailand this week.

Battleship No.18 is a Pohang-class corvette that South Korea gifted to Vietnam last year.

The first ever Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-U.S. Maritime Exercise (AUMX) will last five days (Monday-Friday), starting at the Sattahip Naval Base in Thailand and ending in Singapore.

Vietnam will join activities from Tuesday-Thursday.

During the mission, the crew of No.18 will patrol the southern area of Vietnam’s waters, attend long-distance sailing training courses, check the status of weapons and equipment to improve their commanding ability and train themselves to be battle ready at sea, and learn ways to improve their ability to coordinate with navies of other countries.

They will also learn to take aerial photography (PHOTOEX), visit, board, search, and seize (VBSS) questionable ships, and carry out night cruises.

The AUMX was proposed by former U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at a meeting with his 10 ASEAN counterparts on the sidelines of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus in October 2017 in the Philippines.

The proposal was approved at the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting one year later in Singapore and it was agreed that AUMX drill will only take place once and not on a regular basis.

All 10 ASEAN members agreed to send ships to the exercise.

A Bangkok Post report said the exercise "would involve at least eight ships along with aircraft," with the U.S. sending an destroyer fleet.

It would begin at Thailand’s Sattahip naval base and extend to the tip of Vietnam’s southernmost Ca Mau Province, said the report.

Last October, the Vietnamese navy sent its 015 Tran Hung Dao frigate to participate in a five-day joint naval exercise with ASEAN and China at Zhanjiang City, Guangdong Province. The event aimed to foster stability and relieve tensions in the region.

In June last year, Vietnam also sent eight naval officers to Hawaii to participate in the 2018 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise, the world’s largest multinational naval drill held every two years. Participating in the one-month maritime exercise were 47 surface ships, five submarines, 18 national land forces, and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 naval forces.

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