Political Commissar, Rear Admiral Pham Van Vung from the VN People’s Navy talks on the application of lessons obtained 55 years ago from the first victories the navy has made in the Gulf of Tonkin to today’s context of national defence.
|Missile escort frigate HQ-016 Quang Trung of the Viet Nam People's Navy at the Vladivostok sea port as Vietnam takes part in a fleet review on the occasion of the 323rd anniversary of the Russian Navy. — VNA/VNS File Photo|
August 2nd and 5th of 1964 have become important milestones for the Vietnamese People’s Navy, marking its first victory. What can you tell us about the historical significance of this victory?
55 years ago, nine years of peaceful operations after our official establishment following the declaration of an independent Vietnam in 1945, the Viet Nam People’s Navy had for the first time engaged with bravery in battle with a much stronger enemy and successfully repelled the destroyer USS Maddox from our northern sea, shooting down several of their aircrafts and arresting the pilots.
The victories we earned in the two days – August 2 and 5 in 1964 – is a triumph of the whole nation’s political strength and the will, commitment and knowledge to drive out the invading American forces, and this victory goes to the Viet Nam People’s Navy, the whole military and people of the northern region.
It also serves as a symbol of an unyielding Vietnam, of the country’s wisdom, patriotism and the Vietnamese military arts that have been inherited and developed further in the Ho Chi Minh era.
The victories further enrich the heroic traditions of the Viet Nam People’s Army, prove the keen judgement in the leadership of the Party and the late President Ho Chi Minh, and reaffirm the navy’s courage and cleverness to overcome all difficulties and struggles.
The victories also prove that as a small country, we could still stand a chance against the mighty military power of the US’ navy and air force.
Our victories serve as the basis that encourages Vietnamese people to expend every effort to foil the escalating moves of the imperial Americans, safeguard the northern home front so that the people could continue supporting the war efforts in the great fronts in the south, aiming towards total eradication of the US army’s presence and eventual unification of the country.
Given the complex developments in the seas and waters of Vietnam, what should the Viet Nam People’s Navy do in coordination with other forces to defend the country’s sovereignty?
In this complicated situation that poses many threats to the country’s defence and security, given the Navy’s role as the key defender of the country’s sovereignty, the Viet Nam People’s Navy must do more to build a strong, developed, skilled and modern naval force that can fulfil all assigned missions.
The Navy must hold frequent patrols over our seas and islands, to protect the integrity of the country’s territory in all circumstances while maintaining a peaceful and stable environment that is conducive to the country’s development process.
One critical point I must mention is that the logistics issues must be carefully planned, in order for the Naval forces to operate independently in long-term campaigns.
The Navy must always be on guard, always be prepared and cannot be taken by "surprise" at any development.
The mastery of modern weapons is also a necessity.
The Viet Nam People’s Navy must effectively coordinate with other military forces and civilian forces to build a whole-nation defence and people-based defence, while at the same time, maintaining diplomatic efforts, especially in terms of exchanges with naval forces from other countries.
The Navy has implemented the programme which sets itself as a reliable companion for fishermen during their sea expeditions. Could you tell us more about the main points of this programme?
The programme, crafted in line with the Party Central Committee XII’s resolution on the sustainable development of Vietnam’s sea economy towards 2030 with a vision until 2045 and a resolution on national defence strategy in the new situation, aims at enhancing the quality and effectiveness of the information campaign to make sure that our fishermen’s fishing trips are safe and conducted legally. The programme also helps to consolidate the people-based defence strategy to aid the Navy’s own efforts in upholding the country’s sea and island sovereignty.
This is a major programme of the Navy.
The Navy has directed the Second Regional Command to cooperate with the government of the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau to hold a review of the operations before the programme is deployed nationwide. Regional commands are also told to work in coordination with 28 governments of the provinces along the coast to build action plans that will materialise the four main themes of the programme – including raising fishermen’s awareness on the legal compliance in fishing, reinforcing their trust and sense of security during offshore expeditions, support their fishing activities and fostering fishermen’s role in national defence.
So far, the navy has signed action plans with 24 out of the 28 coastal provinces and cities and it is expected that by mid-August, the four remaining agreements will also be concluded.
All units in the Navy has so far either donated or called for donations of various items for the fishermen – 1,000 life vests, 1,500 lifebuoys, 3,700 Vietnamese flags.
As part of the programme, we also provided free medical consultations and treatment for more than 1,000 fishermen, given the fishermen 300 portable medicine cabinets worth VND250 million, and 4,400 litres of oil.
The navy has also contributed more than 1,500 working days towards marine environment clean-up efforts.
The Navy has also worked with four central provinces – Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh and Phu Yen – to get a hold of the situation after the Government issued its directive on urgent measures to remedy the European Committee’s warnings on our illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities.