USS Theodore Roosevelt strike group visits Vietnam to celebrate diplomatic ties

March 5 (UPI) — The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill arrived Thursday at a port in Da Nang, Vietnam, for a ceremony to celebrate 25 years of U.S.-Vietnam diplomatic ties.

Ho Ky Minh, the vice chairman of Da Nang’s People’s Committee, hosted a ceremony to welcome the U.S. Navy carrier group, a USS Theodore Roosevelt statement said.

The ceremony also included other Vietnamese officials, U.S. government officials and military officials.

USS Theodore Roosevelt is the second U.S. aircraft carrier to make a port call in Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam War. The first was two years ago when the USS Carl Vinson made a port call in Danang.

“The visit follows on the historic 2018 visit of USS Carl Vinson, the first U.S. aircraft to visit Vietnam in more than 40 years,” U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink said in a statement. “It also comes at an important time in our bilateral relationship. Just 25 years after the normalization of our diplomatic ties, our relationship is the strongest it has ever been.”

The visit will include cultural exchanges, community service projects, sports competitions and receptions.

“This visit will not only serve to strengthen our bilateral defense relationship, but also further advance our cultural and professional ties,” Capt. Brett Crozier, USS Theodore Roosevelt’s commanding officer, said in a statement. “We are honored to take part in this important port visit and to receive such a warm welcome.”

The strike group has a total of 6,500 military personnel and left San Diego on Jan. 17 for deployment in the Indo-Pacific region.

“The visit demonstrates the strength of our bilateral relations and highlights our continued cooperation with partner countries and our strong support of the region, including institutions such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Vietnam is this year’s chair,” Rear Adm. Stu Baker, commander Carrier Strike Group 9 said in a statement. “It also serves as evidence of the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific where strong, independent nations respect one another’s sovereignty, and uphold the rule of law.”

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