On Wednesday 26 February 2014, German Navy frigate, FGS Hessen which is operating as part of the EU Naval Force, and South Korean destroyer, Kang Gam Chan, met up in the Gulf of Aden to carry out a joint exercise. Both warships are currently conducting counter-piracy operations.
The counter-piracy exercise was arranged after FGS Hessen’s medical team saved the life of a seriously injured sailor from a South Korean fishing vessel off the coast of Somalia earlier this month.
During a brief visit to Salalah, Oman last week, the commanding officer of Kang Gam Chan invited the commanding officer of FGS Hessen, Commander Dirk Jacobus, for lunch and a tour of his ship. Commander Jacobus was accompanied by his doctors and pilots and other German sailors who had been involved in the rescue operation, They were very happy to be told that the fisherman they rescued had left hospital and was now well enough to return to his boat.
After a return visit by South Korean sailors to FGS Hessen the following day, it was agreed that both ships would conduct a joint exercise at sea, with such exercises helping to strengthen understanding and cooperation between nations.
The exercise started with a sail past each other, with ceremonial salutes exchanged. After communications were established, both ships then started a series of manoeuvering exercises, with coordinated changes of course and speed. All this was observed from the air by the helicopters from both ships. FGS Hessen then simulated a merchant vessel that had been taken by armed pirates and the special forces team on board Kang Gam Chan performed a rescue operation to free the vessel and crew. The exercises ended in the late afternoon with an exchange of operational experiences between both commanding officers.
Speaking about the exercise, Commander Jacobus stated “We were able to use this day to strengthen the cooperation in the fight against piracy. All exercises, but especially the exchange of experiences and coordination between the units over the last few days have contributed to tighten the network of units working together hand in hand at the Horn of Africa.”
On completion of the exercise both units returned to their respective missions at sea around the Horn of Africa. FGS Hessen is part of the EU Naval Force Somalia, Operation Atalanta and the Kang Gam Chan is part of the Combined Maritime Forces conducting counter piracy operations.
Press Release, February 28, 2014, 2014; Image: EU Navfor