10th Anniversary of South Korea’s Overseas Anti-Piracy Mission

March 13: The Republic of Korea Navy’s Cheonghae unit, operating the country’s first overseas anti-piracy mission, in waters off Somalia, will mark its 10th anniversary on Wednesday.

The unit is part of international efforts to protect sea lanes in compliance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1838 adopted in 2008.

On March 13, 2009, the government dispatched the Cheonghae unit, aboard the 4,400-ton destroyer ROKNS Munmu the Great, one of the Chungmugong Yi Sun-shin-class multi-purpose destroyers equipped with Lynx multi-role helicopters, on the first mission.

The 28th deployment involves the ROKNS Choi Young, another destroyer with a crew of 300 including 30 underwater demolition/SEAL personnel that is patrolling waters off Somalia. The 29th deployment of personnel and the ROKNS Dae Jo-yeong is set to sail March 29, to take over for a six-month period.

The Cheonghae unit’s peacekeeping, anti-terrorist and disaster relief operations over the past 10 years have been recognized internationally. 

On May 4, 2009, the unit rescued the North Korean cargo ship Dabaksol, the first time a South Korean Navy ship has come to the aid of a North Korean ocean-going vessel.

The unit is best known for its Operation Dawn of Gulf of Aden in January 2011, during which it rescued the South Korean 11,500-on freighter Samho Jewelry and its 21 crew from Somali pirates.

The naval unit has been involved in many operations to counter pirate attacks and escort South Korean and foreign ships through the dangerous waters of the Gulf of Aden.

As of Feb. 20, 2019, the Cheonghae unit has assisted 21,895 ships, and implemented 21 active anti-piracy interdictions.

A total of 8,478 sailors have been dispatched on the missions with 189 of them serving in more than three deployments.

The Cheonghae unit has been cooperating with the Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151), one of three taskforces operated by the U.S.-led multinational naval partnership Combined Maritime Forces involving 33 countries including Australia, France and Japan.

The National Assembly approved the first foreign deployment of South Korea’s naval forces to join CFT-151 in March 2009.

The unit has also built a partnership with the European Union since 2017, working with EU forces to counter piracy activities.

“Over the last decade, the unit has been fulfilling its missions with a focus on the Gulf of Aden and has raised the Republic of Korea’s national standing by successfully conducting anti-piracy operations with multinational naval forces there,” Choi Hyun-soo, spokeswoman of the Ministry of National Defense, said during a press briefing, Tuesday.

Source: Korea Times

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