US, Vietnam begin joint naval drill
The United Sates and Vietnam have begun a joint naval exercise amid growing tensions over territorial disputes in the South China Sea. China, Vietnam, the Philippines and others all have overlapping claims to parts of the sea.
The 5-day drill includes lifesaving and other training in case of a major natural disaster.
The US Navy 7th Fleet’s flagship Blue Ridge and 2 other vessels arrived on Monday at the central city of Danang, which faces the South China Sea.
US 7th Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Scott Swift told reporters that he feels encouraged by the increased cooperation between the 2 navies.
The United States and Vietnam started holding the annual joint naval exercise in 2010.
Washington and Hanoi are stressing that the drill is for exchanges between the navies, not for military purposes. But the 2 countries are seen as wanting to strengthen their ties to counter China’s growing maritime power.
Monday, April 23, 2012