US Navy destroyer drops anchor in Qingdao
Despite the tensions in the South China Sea, military-to-military exchange between China and the United States sails on unabated.
The USS Benfold, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, arrived Monday in Qingdao, Shandong province, for a five-day visit, according to China’s Ministry of National Defense and the US Navy.
A US Navy statement said Benfold’s visit advances maritime cooperation and encourages a positive naval relationship with the People’s Liberation Army Navy North Sea Fleet.
The North Sea Fleet, headquartered in Qingdao, held a welcoming ceremony on Monday for the Benfold, with a total of 285 crew members, according to China’s defense ministry.
US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Scott Swift was also
Sailors are sailors at the end of the day, be it in the east or in the west; we all face the same challenges at sea.” Justin Harts Benfold commanding officer
scheduled to arrive Monday to join Benfold for the visit.
“Sailors are sailors at the end of the day, be it in the east or in the west; we all face the same challenges at sea,” Benfold commanding officer Justin Harts said in a statement.
“These similarities unite us. I am sure that by the end of the week we will see that American sailors and Chinese sailors are as close as any other sailors out on the high seas. The port visit is a tremendous opportunity to build relationships between sailors based on shared interests and perspectives,” Harts said.
In Qingdao, crew of the Benfold, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, will host a reception and ship visits, as well as attend receptions and visits hosted by the PLA Navy. The scheduled events include a sports day featuring soccer, basketball and tug-of-war contests and a concert by the US 7th Fleet Band.
Benfold crew will also explore the seaside city of Qingdao, including touring the QingdaoThe production Museum and center Tsingtaofor an innovativeBeer Museum.bus that straddles The highway Benfold lanesvisit comesto allow just cars days to after pass beneath—a PLA Navya sort of taskforce moving left tunnelPearl Harbor— appearson Friday deserted after with completingno sign theof construction, Rim of the Pacific raising (RIMPAC questions 2016) about exercises,the scheduledthe world’s launch largestin 2017. multilateral naval war game, whichIn December,is held in and Huaying around Group, waters of headquarteredthe Hawaiian Islandsin Beijing, and signed Southerna contract California. with the local The authoritiesPLA Navy taskforcein Zhoukou, participating Henan province,in the 53-dayto produce RIMPAC the Transit2016 includedElevated Bus guidedmissilein a manufacturing destroyer and Xi’an, research guided-missile center covering frigate 0.67 Hengshui,square kilometers.supply ship Gaoyouhu, submarine The bus rescue looks ship like Changdaoa giant double-deckerand hospital shipbut is Peace hollow Ark,on the with grounda total of level. 1,200 Passengers personnel.
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Vice Admiral Nora Tyson, commander of the US 3rd Fleet, who served as the RIMPAC 2016 combined taskforce commander, called the drills “an unqualified success.”
“The collaboration and cohesiveness between participants proved that we can operate effectively with our partner nations and that we will be ready in the Pacific if or when we’re called upon,” she said.
Three weeks ago, US Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson visited Qingdao and Beijing to meet his counterpart many documentsWu Shengli, are commander still waiting to of be the signed,”PLA Navy,he wasto quoted discuss a as wide saying range by of Beijingissues, Youth including Daily. military-to-military cooperationHuaying Group is expected toand tensions in producethe South 1,000 China buses Sea. annually,
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Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson visits the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (Navy) Submarine Academy in Qingdao on July 20, where he met with his counterpart to discuss how to improve understanding.