DA NANG, Vietnam (NNS) -- The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) arrived pier side in Da Nang, Vietnam Aug. 10.
John S. McCain, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, made the port call to commemorate the 15th Anniversary of the Normalization of Diplomatic Relations between the United States and Vietnam.
This is the first time John S. McCain has visited Vietnam.
"This is a historic event for USS John S. McCain," said Cmdr. Jeffrey Kim, John S. McCain commanding officer. "For this ship and her crew, to be able to make our first visit to Vietnam, especially during this landmark event is truly an honor."
John S. McCain Sailors will interact with their Vietnamese counterparts during shipboard damage control and search and rescue demonstrations, as well as exchanges in culinary arts.
Off the ship, U.S. and Vietnamese Sailors will participate in friendly sporting events such as soccer and volleyball. Throughout the visit, Sailors will conduct community service projects at a local school and orphanage. The crew will also have an opportunity to learn about the country during liberty and hosted tours of Da Nang.
Master-at-Arms 1st Class (SW/EXW) Jonathon Baker, from Columbia, S.C., whose father served in the Vietnam War, said that while the visit offers an opportunity to experience a unique culture, it's also a chance for Sailors to play an important role in enhancing U.S.-Vietnam relations.
"I really do encourage everyone to get out and see the country, and learn something about Vietnam," said Baker. "Many of these junior Sailors' parents and grandparents served in Vietnam. Now there are normalized relations between the U.S and Vietnam. We should take full advantage of being a part of this historic process."
The Navy conducted two port visits to Vietnam in 2008. In 2009, USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) hosted the first-ever fly out of visitors from Vietnam to a U.S. aircraft carrier, and the U.S. 7th Fleet command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82), commanded by Cmdr. H.B. Le, a Vietnamese-American, visited in November 2009. The hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) also visited Vietnam in May in part of a large-scale humanitarian assistance mission, Pacific Partnership 2010.
John S. McCain is assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15 and patrols the 7th Fleet area of responsibility. Operating in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, the U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets, with approximately 50 ships, 120 aircraft and 20,000 Sailors and Marines assigned at any given time.
For more news from Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/c7f/.