Carrier USS Ronald Reagan to Visit Vietnam

June 23, 2023 4:52 PM
Sailors man the rails as the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG-54) approaches the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) for a replenishment at sea in the South China Sea, June 17, 2023. US Navy Photo

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) will arrive in Danang, Vietnam on Sunday for a port call, making it the third time a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier has called upon the country. USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) stopped in Vietnam in 2018, followed by USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) in 2020.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Phạm Thu Hang confirmed Reagan‘s visit to Danang from Sunday to June 30. A U.S. embassy news release said cruisers USS Antietam (CG-54), and USS Robert Smalls (CG-62) would accompany the carrier for the port visit.

Reagan, Antietam, Robert Smalls and destroyer USS Rafael Peralta (DDG-115) have been operating in the South China Sea for more than a week.

The Japan-based Task Force 70 held a change of command aboard the carrier on Friday, with Rear Adm. Pat Hannifin relieving Rear Adm. Buzz Donnelly, according to a Navy news release.

Reagan is currently the only U.S. Navy carrier operating in the Indo-Pacific, with USS Nimitz (CVN-68) now in Pearl Harbor. Amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) is also operating in the region, but is currently in Brisbane, Australia, having docked there on Tuesday for a three-day visit. Australian media reports place America docking there in preparation for the U.S.-Australian-led multinational exercise Talisman Sabre 2023. But the Australian Department of Defence website about the exercise says it begins on July 22 and that participating forces will arrive in mid-July.

The French Ministry of Armed Forces announced that the French Air Force Péase 2023 power projection mission to the Indo-Pacific will take place from June 25 to Aug. 3. The mission includes 10 Rafale fighter aircraft, five A330 Multi-Role Transport Tankers (MRTT) and four A400M Atlas transports deploying from France to the Indo-Pacific. Activities for the deployed forces from July 2 through 21 include “participation in large-scale American exercises in the Pacific organized by the Americans and with the participation of partners in the region from the islands of Guam and Palau,” according to the ministry.

The ministry provided details on the integration of frigate FS Lorraine (D657) into CSG 5 during the U.S.-Japan-Canada-France Noble Typhoon exercise held from June 10-14 in the Philippine Sea and South China Sea. Lorraine carried out control missions for U.S. fighters and helicopters tasked for anti-submarine warfare missions. On June 18, the commanding officer of Lorraine was assigned as the function of Sea Combat Commander (SCC), allowing him to exercise tactical control of the escorts of Ronald Reagan, as well as their aircraft, for the assignments under his responsibility. The ministry also stated that Italian Navy offshore patrol vessel ITS Francesco Morosini (P431) integrated into the Task Force for 24 hours. The Italian OPV, on a deployment to the Indo-Pacific, arrived in Yokosuka, Japan on Wednesday for a port visit.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, Japan’s big-deck helicopter destroyer JS Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer JS Samidare (DD-106) wrapped up a port visit to Cam Ranh on Friday. Izumo, Samidare and destroyer JS Shiranui (DD-120) formed the 1st Surface Group of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Indo-Pacific Deployment 2023 (IPD23), the JMSDF’s annual regional presence and engagement deployment in the region. Shiranui is currently detached on independent taskings from the other two ships.

Prior to visiting Da Nang, Izumo and Samidare conducted separate exercises with partner countries operating in the South China Sea. From June 14 through 19, Izumo joined exercise Noble Raven 23 with U.S. destroyer Rafael Peralta and Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Montreal (FFH336). A JMSDF release stated that the drills included tactical exercises – including anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare and replenishment at sea – and that Noble Raven 23 was part of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s Large Scale Global Exercise 2023 (LSGE23).

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir is a freelance defense journalist and analyst based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Among the publications he has written for and currently writes for since 1998 includes Defence Review Asia, Jane’s Defence Weekly, Navy International, International Defence Review, Asian Defence Journal, Defence Helicopter, Asian Military Review and the Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter.

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