On Saturday 15 March, EU Naval Force French Flagship, FS Siroco, and South Korean destroyer, ROKS Kang Gam Chan met at sea in the Gulf of Aden to conduct a series of maritime exercises. Both warships are currently conducting counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia.
During the exercises, Captain Yu Byeong-Joo, who is the commanding officer of the South Korean warship, took the opportunity to ‘cross-deck’ to the Operation Atalanta flagship to visit the EU Force Commander, Rear Admiral Hervé Bléjean.
The exercises at sea followed the assistance given by FS Siroco to a seriously injured fisherman on board a South Korean fishing vessel a few weeks ago. As the closest warship to the fishing vessel, FS Siroco’s medical team was able to give first aid to the injured fisherman, who was then transferred to another Operation Atalanta frigate, FGS Hessen, for life-saving surgery.
Speaking about the events, the commanding officer of FS Siroco, Captain Le Quilliec commented “Assistance such as that given to the injured fisherman and exercises at sea help to strengthen relations between navies and nations.”
The Operation Atalanta Force Commander, Rear Admiral Bléjean said: “We were able to use this day to strengthen our mutual understanding regarding counter-piracy issues. Also the exchange of crewmembers between the units for few hours helped to reinforce the already strong links that have been created. We are working together, shoulder to shoulder, against piracy in the Indian Ocean.”
After the end of this fruitful day, the two naval units gave each other traditional ‘pass by’ salutes and then headed to their respective counter piracy patrol zones in the Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa.
The Operation Atalanta Force Headquarters on board FS Siroco took command on 6 December 2013.
Press Release, March 20, 2014; Image: EUNAVFOR