For Vietnam, which has objected most strongly to China over issues in the South China Sea, the expanding USA involvement in Asia has been fortunate. It will anchor just off Danang, where US Marines landed 53 years ago this month - the first direct involvement by American combat troops in the war.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, including reefs and islands also claimed by other nations.


In its National Security Strategy (NSS) paper, released last December, the Trump administration identified Vietnam as a "cooperative maritime partner", underlining Hanoi's emergence as a key player in preserving the existing order in the East Asian seascape.

"The visit marks an enormously significant milestone in our bilateral relations and demonstrates US support for a strong, prosperous and independent Vietnam", Daniel Kritenbrink, the USA ambassador to Vietnam, told the ceremony.

"Vietnam has been deeply concerned about China's pugilistic and aggressive moves in the South China Sea".

The US and Vietnam have seen an extraordinary turnaround in relations since the end of the war in 1975. Pacific Fleet. "I am confident that engagements like this will further expand the comprehensive partnership between the United States and Vietnam". In 2014, Beijing deployed an oil rig in disputed waters near Vietnam, which led to a standoff between naval vessels and sparked violent anti-China demonstrations in Vietnam.


It was said that the military of the two countries intend to exchange technical experience.

On Monday, the USS Carl Vinson docked at Da Nang in a four-day port call that the commander of the Carl Vinson strike group touted as a "pretty big and historic step".

Huynh Quang Nguyen, a taxi driver, said he was "happy and excited" about the visit.

"The Philippines has just rolled over, China is continually militarizing and if the U.S. doesn't maintain a presence in the region, Vietnam's got nowhere to hide", Thayer said. That dread is rooted in China's growing military muscle and regional economic influence as well as the increasingly acquiescent policies of other regional claimant states, namely the Philippines under pro-China President Rodrigo Duterte.


U.S. Navy cruiser the USS Lake Champlain in Tien Sa Port on March 3.

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