The USCGC John Midgett Coast Guard vessel has completed the procedures for flagging Vietnam as well as the final test run and will be handed over to Vietnam by the US at the end of this month.
Former Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Pham Quang Vinh on May 24 said in a post on Twitter that “the USCGC John Midgett is ready to be handed over to Vietnam” after being “repainted and labeled CBS 8021 (Vietnam Coast Guard).”
This information was also reported by the domestic mainstream media after the image of a coast guard ship painted with the Vietnamese flag and the words “Vietnam Coast Guard” passing through the Edmonds area of Washington state on May 18 on the American website My Edmonds News. These images were also posted on the Facebook page for the ship that was once part of the US Coast Guard system, the USCGC Midgett.
According to Tuoi Tre, a representative of the US State Department confirmed that the John Midgett will be handed over to Vietnam by the end of this month.
A spokesman for the US State Department told Tuoi Tre that the ship was in Seattle (Washington) – where it would have its final adjustments and training – before being delivered to the Vietnamese side in May.
Earlier on May 19, Thanh Nien said that a Vietnamese coast guard ship, which was a John Midgett (WHEC 726), which had just been painted and has the model number 8021 of the Vietnamese coast guard, was on trial run in Seattle, Washington.
Ambassador Vinh’s post said that the ship that was about to be handed over to Vietnam by the US was a Hamilton-class ship. It is known that this is one of 12 Hamilton-class ships that the US built in the 1960s for use during the Cold War.
This will be the second Hamilton-class coast guard ship that the US has delivered to Vietnam under the program to sell excess defense equipment, after the USCGC Morgenthau, which was commissioned into the Vietnam Coast Guard with the number CSG 8020 at the end of 2017, according to Tuoi Tre.
Former US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper during a visit to Hanoi at the end of 2019 also confirmed that Vietnam is expected to receive a decommissioned Hamilton-class coast guard ship from the United States in 2020 to use for survey patrols in the East Sea (South China Sea).
According to Tuoi Tre, US Assistant Secretary of State in charge of politics and defense R. Clarke Cooper said that the US initially planned to deliver this ship to Vietnam in March or April this year. It is known that the conversion of the John Midgett into a coast guard ship for Vietnam was delayed due to the impact of the COVID pandemic on US naval operations.
The United States and Vietnam have tightened defense cooperation in recent years in the face of China’s growing influence in the region, especially Beijing’s claims to the South China Sea.
According to the analysis of Dr. Satoru Nagao of the Hudson Institute in the US with Tuoi Tre, John Midgett is the second Hamilton-class ship brought to Vietnam, which means that currently the main equipment of the Vietnam Coast Guard is from the US brought to Vietnam. Therefore, according to Dr. Nagao, this requires more cooperation on how to support operations, and as a result, the defense relationship between Vietnam and the US will improve.
Recently there has been information regarding US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s possible visit to Vietnam this June. When asked about this, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang was quoted by the media as saying that the comprehensive partnership between Vietnam and the US over the past time has maintained development momentum in many fields including security and defense cooperation.