Politics

Panetta arrives at former US base in Vietnam

  • June 3, 2012: Defense Secretary Panetta approaches USNS Byrd in Cam Ranh Bay.

    June 3, 2012: Defense Secretary Panetta approaches USNS Byrd in Cam Ranh Bay.  (Fox News)

  • June 3, 2012: U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, second from left, walks with Commander Air Power Generation Command Col. Sarbjit Singh, left, Defense and Naval Attache for Singapore Capt. John Wood, second from right, and Singapore Defense Attache to the U.S. Brig Gen. Chee Wee Tan before departing Paya Lebar Airfeild, Singapore.

    June 3, 2012: U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, second from left, walks with Commander Air Power Generation Command Col. Sarbjit Singh, left, Defense and Naval Attache for Singapore Capt. John Wood, second from right, and Singapore Defense Attache to the U.S. Brig Gen. Chee Wee Tan before departing Paya Lebar Airfeild, Singapore.  (AP)

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has arrived at a former U.S. air and naval base at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, becoming the most senior American official to go there since the war ended.

Panetta says he hopes to encourage efforts with Vietnam to locate and identify more of the U.S. war dead who are still missing.

He plans to visit the USNS Richard E. Byrd, a cargo ship operated by the Navy's Military Sealift Command. The ship has a largely civilian crew and is used to move military supplies to U.S. forces around the world.

The U.S. military's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command has six recovery teams and two investigative teams in Vietnam searching for troop remains. There are about 1,200 unaccounted for service members believed to be in Vietnam.