POSTED: 07:07 p.m. HST, Aug 30, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 06:03 a.m. HST, Aug 31, 2012
China’s largest maritime inspection vessel, the Haixun 31, will make a historic first visit to the United States during a port call in Honolulu Tuesday, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
The Haixun 31 will be escorted to Aloha Tower at 3 p.m. by a parade of ships that will include the Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island and the Honolulu Fire Department fireboat Moku Ahi.
The Coast Guard and Chinese Maritime Safety Administration are scheduled to conduct a joint search and rescue table top exercise and on-water exercise in Honolulu.
The exercises will serve as building blocks towards a cooperative partnership and aid discussions of maritime search and rescue and environmental protection measures — issues of interest for both countries, the Coast Guard said.
“This historic engagement further improves the coordination of search and rescue operations at sea,” said Rear Adm. Charles Ray, commander of the 14th Coast Guard District. “This is the first visit to the United States by the Haixun 31 and is an opportunity to strengthen our relationship on a number of common maritime missions.”
Representatives from the 14th Coast Guard District will host the crew of the Haixun 31, which will remain in Honolulu Harbor until Sept. 8.
“It’s our first time to send a maritime patrol boat to visit the U.S. It’s also our first time to send helicopters on a patrol ship for a long voyage,” Cao Desheng, deputy director of China’s Ministry of Transport’s water transport bureau, told Asia One News.
In another first, the Haixun 31 sailed past the disputed Paracel and Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea before docking in Singapore in June.
The news agency Xinhua, meanwhile, reported that Adm. Samuel Locklear III, the head of U.S. Pacific Command, met on Tuesday in Hawaii with Cai Yingting, deputy chief of the general staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
Cai also met with Maj. Gen. Roger Mathews, a deputy commander of U.S. Army Pacific; Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, commander of Pacific Air Forces; and Adm. Cecil Haney, head of U.S. Pacific Fleet, Xinhua said.
Locklear said the U.S. wants to strengthen cooperation with the Chinese, deepen exchanges, and boost strategic mutual trust, Xinhua reported.