The Chinese frigate Yiyang draws closer to Naval Station Mayport near Jacksonvile, Fla., on Nov. 3. On Saturday, the U.S. Navy and China conducted joint drills in the hopes of defusing recent tensions in the South China Sea. Photo Courtesy of U.S. Navy
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Nov. 9 (UPI) -- The United States and China have been conducting joint naval exercises in the Atlantic Ocean amid rising tensions in the South China Sea.
State newspaper Beijing News reported the navies of the two countries conducted a joint naval training session on Saturday near the Naval Station Mayport, a U.S. naval base in Jacksonville, Fla. The base held a ceremony Tuesday that included a Chinese dragon dance performance from the Orlando Chinese Professionals Association, The Florida Times-Union reported.
China's latest warships took part in the drills, including the guided-missile frigate Yiyang, the guided-missile destroyer Jinan and the fleet's oil tanker Qiandao Hu.
The United States deployed the missile destroyer USS Mason and the guided missile cruiser USS Monterey along with other ships in the Atlantic, where the warships conducted drills on Saturday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The exercises included the coordination of maritime communications, fleet operations and rescue missions, according to Chinese news website Peng Pai.
On Tuesday, the commander of China's Task Group 152, Senior Capt. Wang Jianxun, had met with U.S. officials and expressed his hopes that trust-building could strengthen between the two countries, despite the conflict in the South China Sea.
"The meetings between two neighbors have widened the horizons and boosted relations and [the] two navies' cooperation," Wang said. "It will help [the] two navies stand forward."
Rear Adm. Mary Jackson, commander of Navy Region Southeast, told Wang "one mariner to another" that his fleet was welcome and that she hoped some Florida sunshine could provide some relief to recent tensions.
On Oct. 27, frictions escalated when the USS Lassen, a guided missile destroyer, sailed within a 12-mile radius of Subi Reef, where China has been building airstrips on reclaimed land.