The USS Ronald Reagan, the country’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, visited Vietnam in a rare port call this week, the Associated Press reported.
Accompanied by the guided missile cruisers the USS Robert Smalls and USS Antietam, the USS Ronald Reagan arrived in Da Nang on Sunday.
After mooring in Da Nang, officers from the USS Ronald Reagan were greeted by their Vietnamese counterparts. The Da Nang port was expanded and modernized by the United States during the Vietnam War.
According to Commanding Officer Captain Daryle Cardone, some of the over 5,000 sailors aboard the Ronald Regan spent the week volunteering at community relations events, taking part in professional and cultural exchanges, and playing sports with local athletes.
The carrier remained at the port until June 30.
While China is Vietnam’s largest trading partner, Beijing’s maritime claims over the South China Sea are causing increased friction with Vietnam, as well as with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
The US carrier’s port call is only the third such visit since relations between the US and Vietnam were reestablished after the war.
Three Biden administration officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, have visited Vietnam this year as part of a diplomatic push to strengthen economic ties in the Indo-Pacific.
Last week, Japan’s largest destroyer, Izumo, also made a port call to Vietnam following military exercises with the USS Ronald Reagan and other US vessels in the South China Sea.
Meanwhile, China sent a navy training ship to Da Nang in May as part of its goodwill tour in the Indo-Pacific that also included visits to Brunei, the Philippines, and Thailand.
Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry described the USS Ronald Reagan’s port call as a “normal friendly exchange” that seeks stability, peace, development, and cooperation both in Southeast Asia and the world.
The USS Ronald Reagan is based in Yokosuka, Japan.