Vietnam takes delivery of Russian-made warship

AP News
Posted: Aug 22, 2011 11:48 PM
Vietnam takes delivery of Russian-made warship

Vietnam has received a second Russian-made guided missile warship as tensions over disputed islands in the South China Sea continue, state media reported Tuesday.

The Gepard class frigate, Vietnam's most modern warship, was delivered Monday at the Cam Ranh naval port in central Vietnam, the Thanh Nien newspaper said.

Taking the delivery of the frigate marked a "new development" in improving "the combative strength as well as the capability of managing and defending the country's sea sovereignty," the paper quoted navy commander Nguyen Van Hien as saying.

Vietnam took the delivery of the first warship of this kind in March.

The Southeast Asian nation has also ordered to buy six diesel-electric "Project 636" Varshavyanka submarines for a total of $2 billion. The submarines are also known by their NATO nickname, "Kilos." The delivery of the first submarine was expected in three years.

Vietnam's naval build-up comes at a time when tensions between Vietnam and China flare over disputed islands in the South China Sea.

Relations between the two communist neighbors hit a low-point this summer after Hanoi accused Beijing of interfering with its oil exploration activities.

The two sides, along with several other Asian nations, claim all or part of two disputed island chains believed to be rich in natural resources in an area that's home to vital shipping lanes.