A French warship arrived Monday at Vietnam’s newly opened international seaport in a friendly visit to the Southeast Asian state, Vietnamese media outlets reported.
Back in March, Vietnam had inaugurated Cam Ranh International Port, a new international port facility capable of receiving foreign warships (See: “Vietnam Unveils Port Facility For Foreign Warships in Cam Ranh Bay”). The port is located in Cam Ranh Bay, a deep-water harbor in central Vietnam along the South China Sea.
In April, two Japanese guided-missile destroyers had made a port call at Cam Ranh Bay International Port, the first visit of its kind (See: “Japanese Destroyers Visit Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay in Historic Move”).
On Monday morning, the amphibious assault ship Tonnerre (L9014) docked at Cam Ranh International Port for a visit that will last until May 5.
The Tonnerre (“Thunder” in French) is an amphibious assault helicopter carrier in the French Navy. Part of the Mistral-class amphibious assault ship series, the ship can carry 16 heavy helicopters and one-third of a mechanized regiment, in addition to two LCAC hovercrafts or up to four landing craft.
Since it was commissioned in December 2006, the Tonnerre has been involved in several operations from a humanitarian mission in the Gulf of Guinea to those with allied ships during the Libyan Civil War.
According to a press release by the French Embassy of Vietnam, during the visit, the commanders and sailors of the warship will meet with local officials and partake in several activities with Vietnamese counterparts.
The visit comes ahead of the visit of high-level French officials later this year. Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian is set to visit Vietnam in June, while President Francois Hollande will also be in Hanoi later this year.
France had colonized Vietnam as part of French Indochina, ruling the country until its defeat in the First Indochina War and the proclamation of Vietnamese independence in 1954. The two countries had elevated their relationship to the level of a strategic partnership during then Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s visit to France in 2013.