“The strategic implications and importance of the waters of the South China Sea and the freedom of navigation is vital to both Vietnam and the United States,” Capt. Ross Myers, commander of the George Washington’s air wing, said aboard the ship Sunday as fighter jets thundered off the flight deck above.
The formidable USS George Washington is a permanent presence in the Pacific, based in Japan. As one of the world’s biggest warships, it is a floating city that can carry up to 70 aircraft, more than 5,000 sailors and aviators. It cruised Sunday about 200 miles (320 kilometers) off the central coast city of Danang. (click on the image at left for a high resolution (print quality) photo).
A group of high-ranking Vietnamese military officials flew to the carrier Sunday along with other Vietnamese government officials and the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam.
The supercarrier came to Vietnam following four days of high-profile military exercises last month with South Korea aimed at showing solidarity following the sinking of the 1,200-ton Cheonan navy ship.