Mar 31, 2021 / 20:49

How did Canada sailors prepare for warship port call in Vietnam?

Canada warships have frequently paid visits to Vietnam over the past years.

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Calgary is making port call in Cam Ranh, central Vietnam, spotlighting the broader ongoing defense activity between the two sides.

 Crews with orphans in Khanh Hoa province. Photo: Phuong Linh

On March 30, representatives from the Canadian embassy, and sailors of the vessel visited Shelter of Hope and Compassion Shelter, the two local orphanages and presented them with CAD5000 (US$3,967) and CAD10000, respectively.

Before leaving for Vietnam, sailors of HMCS Calgary had learned Vietnamese. Two among them are Vietnamese descents, Richard Vuong and Peter Bui.

Marine Technician’s Sailor First Class (S1) Richard Vuong and Sailor Second Class (S2) Peter Bui, both with Vietnamese heritage, were excited to be going to the country on the port call to Cam Ranh International Port [on March 30], according to the Canadian government’s portal.

The pair are natural-born Canadians but were brought up in families that followed traditional Vietnamese customs as they have parents that were born and raised in Vietnam.

Richard Vuong and Peter Bui joined the navy as they expected that the Canada’s ship deployments in Vietnam could enable them to connect with their roots as they found out Canada frequently sends ships to Asia, including the Southeast Asian country.

 HMCS Calgary’s Sailor First Class Vuong and Sailor Second Class Bui study Vietnamese together on board the ship as it makes its way to Vietnam while on Operation PROJECTION. Photo: HMCS Calgary

To prepare for the current deployment, Operation (Op) PROJECTION, both sailors have been studying Vietnamese.

For Peter Bui, going to Vietnam and connecting with his ancestral roots is what led him to join the Royal Canadian Navy in the first place.

“When I found out we were going to Vietnam, even though we can’t get off the jetty, I was really happy. I’m so excited to see my home country again. The whole reason I joined the navy was because I knew Canadian ships often sail to Vietnam and I wanted to go and do that with them,” Bui said.

“Sure we can’t get off the ship but it will be great to go back to a country that is very very close to my heart,” he revealed.

“I’ve never been to Vietnam before, it’s going to be like coming back home a bit – in a sort of random way,” Richard Vuong said.

“Learning Vietnamese is a project that is long overdue. My dad is getting old, I wanted to go to Vietnam and connect with my family members without the help of my father. I want to stay in touch with my roots,” he said.

He shared that “I won’t be able to go to a Vietnamese coffee shop on this deployment, but I’m still excited to actually see the country with my own eyes, even if it is just from the ship.”

Bui’s Vietnam experience, which happened just over four years ago, made him realize the world was a rich and fantastic place, and he wanted to see more of it, and that’s why he ended up joining the navy.

“I just wanted to see the world, and I especially wanted to go back to Vietnam. It may be under less than ideal circumstances, but it is still amazing. Anyways, the navy is always here so I will have more opportunities,” he said.

Bui admitted that “By learning Vietnamese I get to deepen my connection with my ancestral country. It’s just making the deployment so much more memorable.”

On the port call to Cam Ranh, the crew members spent time with local authorities and donated orphans in Hope Shelter.

In 2019, HMCS Regina and MV Asterix visited Cam Ranh. The crews supported locals and building people-to-people ties.

The defense ministry characterized the visit as an effort to expand bilateral defense cooperation “on par” with the memorandum of understanding on Vietnam-Canada defense cooperation, Dr. Prashanth Parameswaran wrote on The Diplomat.