The U.S. has given six fast-response Metal Shark patrol boats to Vietnam Coast Guard Region 3 in the central region.
The Metal Shark boats are capable of speeds of 35 knots (65 kph), trailers and spare parts estimated to be worth around $12 million.
"Coast Guard Region 3 is unequivocally Vietnam’s most strategic region and arguably its most important, proven by the high skill level of this group of boat drivers, handlers, and engineers," Lieutenant Commander Kristen Byers of the U.S. Coast Guard said at the handover ceremony in Van Phong Bay of Khanh Hoa Province last weekend.
Vietnam Coast Guard (VCG) Region 3 oversees the country's waters along the southeastern and south central coast, and offshore waters in the East Sea, known internationally as the South China Sea.
The new patrols boats, transferred by the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, will assist VCG Region 3 to step up its coastal patrols and law enforcement to combat smuggling, illicit trafficking, piracy and armed robbery against ships, as also illegal fishing.
Over the past two weeks, trainers from the U.S. have come to train Vietnamese officers to operate the Metal Shark boats.
The U.S. embassy, through its Office of Defense Cooperation, coordinates U.S.-Vietnam security cooperation activities on behalf of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command to advance common defense goals and interests, it said.
This cooperation, as agreed upon in the September 2011 Memorandum of Understanding on defense cooperation, includes security assistance and educational exchanges between the U.S. and Vietnamese militaries.
Last Friday, an official from Boeing revealed that the U.S. company is close to sealing a deal to sell unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle, to Vietnam.
Last August, a local newspaper quoted an unnamed U.S. State Department official as saying that Vietnam had signed contracts to buy U.S. military equipment worth $94.7 million. Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry has neither confirmed nor denied the information.
Six Metal Shark patrol boats had also been delivered in March last year, when the USS Carl Vinson arrived in Da Nang on a historic visit, the first to Vietnam by an American aircraft carrier since 1975. Read more:
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