Person standing on deck of aircraft carrier (© Linh Pham/AFP/Getty Images)
A U.S. Navy officer aboard the USS Carl Vinson snaps a photo of the sunset in Danang, Vietnam. (© Linh Pham/AFP/Getty Images)

A U.S. ship called the USS Carl Vinson made a friendship visit March 5 to Vietnam — the first time a U.S. aircraft carrier has anchored in the country since the end of the Vietnam War more than four decades ago.

“The visit marks an enormously significant milestone in our bilateral relations and demonstrates U.S. support for a strong, prosperous and independent Vietnam,” said U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink. “Through hard work, mutual respect, and by continuing to address the past while we work toward a better future, we have gone from former enemies to close partners.”

Uniformed men inside a ship (© Hau Dinh/AP Images)
Vietnamese officers met U.S. sailors during a tour of the 333-meter USS Carl Vinson. (© Hau Dinh/AP Images)

The more than 6,000 crew members aboard the supercarrier have scheduled soccer and basketball matches with their counterparts in Vietnam.

Naval officials praised their Vietnamese hosts for the logistical support that allowed the visit and thanked them for a warm welcome. “The United States and Vietnam are cooperating more closely than ever before,” said Rear Admiral John Fuller, who commands the U.S. carrier group.

A sign of stability

(On left) two officers walking near water (© Tran Van Minh/AP Images); (on right) aircraft carrier (© Hau Dinh/AP Images)
Left: U.S. Vice Admiral Phillip Sawyer (left)  and Rear Admiral John Fuller (right) (© Tran Van Minh/AP Images) Right: The USS Carl Vinson docks in Danang Bay. (© Hau Dinh/AP Images)

In port, a U.S. cruiser and a destroyer joined the 333-meter aircraft carrier. The group will set sail from Vietnam on March 9. It will then continue on a routine deployment in the Indo-Pacific region. From the Philippines to Vietnam, the U.S. aims to strengthen friendships, maintain stability and keep open vital sea lanes, Fuller said.

The 2018 port call in Danang follows an October 2017 visit from Vietnamese officials to the carrier, when it anchored off the coast of Southern California.

“The nations in the Pacific are maritime nations,” Fuller said. “They value stability. … That’s exactly what we are here for. This is a very visible and tangible presence. The United States is here again.”