South Korea decommissions final US naval ship in its fleet

Sailors attend the decommissioning ceremony of ROK ship Pyeongtaek (ATS-27) at Commander Fleet Activities, Chinhae. Photo: US Navy

The Republic of Korea Navy decommissioned ROKN ship Pyeongtaek (ATS-27), the last U.S. ship transferred to the ROK Navy, on December 28.

Former USS Beaufort (ATS-2), an Edenton-class salvage and rescue ship, joined the U.S. Fleet in 1972 and served 24-years in the Indo-Asia-Pacific before being decommissioned in 1996.

One year later, the ship was transferred to the ROK Navy and commissioned as Pyeongtaek.

“Beaufort had a great legacy,” said Cmdr. Henry Kim, chief of staff for Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea, “but the biggest legacy is not what the ship did in the U.S Navy but the continued service it provided for the ROK and US alliance. It is the last former U.S. ship in the ROK fleet, so today’s decommissioning is important to our ROK partners and us.”

Beaufort was involved in multiple operations in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility including serving as a support ship for minesweepers in operation End Sweep in North Vietnam.

Following her decommissioning on March 8, 1996, Pyeongtaek entered the Department of State’s Security Assistance Program and the hull was sold to the ROK August 29, 1996, and was re-commissioned ROKS Peyongtaek April 1, 1997.

“This ceremony marks the end of an era,” said Kim. “This is the last U.S. ship to have served in the ROK Navy, now each ROK ship is ROK built. That is an obvious source of pride, and as both navies progress and grow stronger, so will our alliance.”

During Pyeongtaek’s 20 years of ROK naval service, the ship participated in numerous operations including the Taean oil spill recovery efforts in 2008 and the rescue and salvage efforts following the 2010 attack.

After the ceremony, which was attended by more than 200 ROK and U.S. guests including Kim, former Pyeongtaek crewmembers, and the mayor of Pyeongtaek Kyeong Kwang, the ship will be transferred to Pyeongtaek City.

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