Vietnamese People's Navy
The Vietnam People's Navy is the core service in protecting Vietnam's maritime sovereignty. The Navy's Responsibility is to strictly manage and control the waters and islands in the East Sea under Vietnam's sovereignty, to maintain security, to counter any Acts of violating Sovereignty, sovereign rights, jurisdiction and national interests of Vietnam at sea, to secure normal activities of Vietnam in its waters and islands in Conformity with Vietnamese and international laws, to ensure maritime safety and participate in search-and-rescue operations in accordance with Vietnam's laws and the international conventions Adopted by Vietnam, to be ready for joint and combined operations to defeat Aggression from any and at sea.
In 1953 PAV assigned 500 soldiers to a Coastal Defence Bureau; this force had grown to 600 in 1955 and 1,000 in 1958. The PAVN Navy, begun in 1955 as the PAVN Riverine and Maritime Force, in 1959 became the Coastal Defense Force. Although PAV was prohibited from forming a navy, it expanded its Coastal Defence Bureau into the Navy Directorate and Coastal Defence Force on 12 October 1959. Officially the navy remained a 'branch' of PAV, and had no representation at the ministerial level.
By 1964, when North Vietnamese vessels were involved in the Tonkin Gulf Incident, the PAV Navy had grown to 2,500 men. Its "tradition day" is celebrated annually on August 5 to mark the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident in the Second Indochina War. The PAVN Navy began a buildup in the mid-1960s with the arrival of twenty-eight gunboats from China and thirty patrol torpedo boats from the Soviet Union. Aside from occasional resupply missions to the south, however, the navy was not a factor in the Second Indochina War.
At the end of the Second Indochina War, it assumed the normal dual missions of a navy, that is, coastal defense and sea surveillance. Following the fall of Saigon the PAVN inherited 1,300 ex-South Vietnamese vessels. Some of these, including two Admiral-class corvettes, were used extensively during the 1978 invasion of Cambodia, as were two Soviet Petya II-class frigates which had been delivered in November 1978 immediately following the signing of the Soviet-Victnamese Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation.
During the 1980s Soviet aid focused on modernizing the PAVN Navy. From 1978 to 1990 the PAVN Navy received Soviet assistance and encouragement and was the largest naval force in Southeast Asia, in exchange they allowed the Soviets to use Cam Ranh Bay as a naval base. Including some 1,300 former United States and South Vietnamese naval vessels, naval and civilian junks, and coasters, the PAVN Navy had a total of about 1,500 vessels. Its inventory contained two principal combat vessels, 192 patrol boats, 51 amphibious warfare ships, 104 landing ships, and 133 auxiliary craft.
Although the largest navy in South-East Asia, it remain s totally outclassed by the Chinese fleet; most recently, Hanoi was embarrassed when the Chinese navy was able to sink at least two Vietnamese supply ships attempting to operate in the disputed Spratly Islands in March 1988.
By 2006, the Vietnamese Navy consisted of about 27,000 naval infantry, 9,000 regulars, and 3,000 conscripts. The fleet was arranged into four main regions as follows: Haiphong (headquarters), Da Nang, Nha Trang, and Cân Tho. Ther are also bases in Cam Ranh Bay, Hue and Ha Tou. By 2012 the Vietnamese People's Navy numbered in the region of 42,000 sailors and officers.
Although Vietnam terminated the lease of Cam Ranh Bay to the Russian Navy in mid-2001, there did not seem to be any clear indication of them making this base available to other countries, even though its size is attractive to the US, China, and India, who would all be able to provide significant funding and training opportunities. US-Vietnam relations hint at improvement over recent years with at least three port visits by US warships since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Namely, the 2003 visit to Ho Chi Minh City, the 2004 visit to Da Nang, and again in 2005 at Ho Chi Minh City marking the 30th anniversary of the end of the war.
Despite Vietnam's significant maritime interests such as its claim to the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, a heavily disputed area, the People's Navy was relatively weak. With a short supply of spares and many of its ships barely able to claim operational ability, its operational capability failed to live up to the Navy's Order of Battle. The relationship which began during the Cold War with the Moscow was still of great importance, at the very least in order to maintain a minimal operational readiness.
The Navy Headquarters takes command of the entire Navy. The Headquarters includes the Commander and Vice Commanders, the Commissar and the Deputy Commissar. It also consists of Agencies responsible for military affairs, Political Party and work, technical and logistic issues. The Navy is organized into five Naval Regions (1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) and affiliated units. The main forces of the Navy are the units of surface ships, coastal artillery and land-to-sea missiles, marine, naval commando forces and Defence island. The Navy has been reinforced with personnel and equipment to effectively conduct search-and-rescue operations. In the future, the Navy will be equipped with modern weapons and further enhanced combat power to be sufficiently capable of accomplishing the task of successfully protecting Vietnam's sovereignty, sovereign rights, jurisdiction and national interests at sea.
The command structure of the PAVN Navy originated in Hanoi, where the commander in chief of naval forces was located. His office, the Naval Directorate, reported to the Military general Staff Directorate, i.e., the high command. The top operational Commander was the Commander, Vietnam Naval Forces, headquartered in Haiphong. The two posts were usually held by the same individual. Regulations issued in April 1982 established three flag-rank officers: rear admiral, equivalent to a major general; vice admiral, equivalent to a lieutenant general; and full admiral, equivalent to a colonel general.
Five naval regions made up the operational command. Headquartered at Haiphong, Vinh, Da Nang, Vung Tau, and Rach Gia, each region had two or more naval installations or facilities for which it was responsible. Within this structure were the navy fleets or navy groups, in turn divided into navy brigades. In 1987 the Ham Tu Fleet patrolled the northern Gulf of Tonkin as a strategic deterrent to China; its Chuong Duong Brigade was designed to oppose amphibious landings; its Kiet Brigade was assigned to defend the offshore islands and to perform troop transport duties. The Bach Dang Fleet served in the South. Its Ham Tu Naval Brigade (with 80 percent of its personnel South Vietnamese Navy veterans) operated almost entirely in Cambodian waters.
The Vietnamese People's Navy consisted of combat and logistic elements having more and more modern vessels, weapons, and equipment which enable it to carry out combat operations in Vietnamese waters. The Vietnamese People's Navy played an important part in protecting national waters, islands, the continental shelf, and special economic zones and in ensuring the interests of maritime economy. The Vietnamese People's Navy was the lead force in maintaining coordination with other forces such as the police, customs service, border defense force, and maritime police to strictly control national waters and economic activities at sea in compliance with Vietnamese and international laws.
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