While the relationship between the U.S. and China has strained recently over territorial disputes in the South China Sea, the U.S. Navy announced Wednesday that it has begun training drills with a different nation with ties to the region — Vietnam, reports Stars and Stripes.

The littoral combat ship Coronado and the safeguard-class salvage ship Salvor arrived in Cam Ranh International Port, Vietnam, on July 5 to take part in the eighth annual Naval Engagement Activity Vietnam, according to a Navy release.

Map of Cam Ranh, Vietnam and the South China Sea region.

Map of Cam Ranh, Vietnam and the South China Sea region.
Photo Credit: John Bretschneider/Staff

 
The joint training will last five days and will focus on ship handling, medical evacuations and how to handle unplanned encounters at sea, according to the Navy release.

"The United States values our comprehensive partnership with Vietnam and we look forward to deepening our relationship and people-to-people ties through engagements like NEA," said Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, commander, Task Force 73, in the Navy release.

The annual training exercise comes just two days after China accused the U.S. of acting "provocatively" in the South China Sea. On July 3, the U.S. sent a guided-missile destroyer to sail within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island, which is claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam. The Chinese government saw the act as infringing on its authority.