US Aircraft Carrier to Visit Vietnam

US carrier Carl Vinson docks in Danang for 1st time since Vietnam War

The arrival of the Carl Vinson strike group's 5,500 sailors marks the first time such a large contingent of American military personnel has landed on Vietnamese soil since the last of the United States troops withdrew in 1975.

For the first time since the end of the Vietnam War, a U.S. aircraft carrier made a port call in Vietnam on Monday, signaling how Chinas rise is bringing together former foes in a significant shift in the regions geopolitical landscape, the media reported. Vietnam challenges China's territorial claims in the sea, where Beijing has built up and militarized artificial islands that its neighbors depend on for fishing and commerce.

As China seeks a greater presence in the region, US carriers have frequently plied the South China Sea in a rising pattern of naval deployments.

While in Vietnam, sailors from the Carl Vinson will participate in sports competitions, community service projects, and receptions. Two other U.S. Navy ships are also visiting.

The presence of the USS Carl Vinson, a U.S. Navy supercarrier, highlights the growing alliance between the U.S. and its erstwhile foe, and it could rattle the regional superpower China.

Although no US aircraft carrier has been to Vietnam since the end of the war, other, smaller USA warships have made high-level visits as ties improved in recent years.

The Vietnam War - which Vietnam calls the American War - was protracted and bloody.

This drives Vietnam to cooperate more closely with the US and Japan as it seeks diplomatic leverage against China.

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"During the war, I was scared when I saw American soldiers", said Tran Thi Luyen, 55, who runs a small coffee shop in the city.

"Now the aircraft carrier comes with a completely different mission, a mission of peace and promoting economic and military cooperation between the two countries", he said.

On previous occasions, the U.S. Navy has made it clear it will not be deterred from sailing through global waters by the presence of militarized Chinese islands and will continue to patrol the region as it has done for the past 70 years.

Huynh Quang Nguyen, a taxi driver, echoed the sentiment.

Analysts say the port call, which follows a visit to the Philippines last month, is a chance for the United States to flex its military muscle in Asia.

In this handout provided by the U.S. Navy, the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transits the Sunda Strait on April 14, 2017 in Indonesia.

In response to China's rapid militarization of artificially created islands, Vietnam has embarked on limited reclamation activities of its own, accompanied by deployment of weapons systems, including precision-guided artilleries, to some of its islands in the Spratlys.

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