Republic of Korea Navy destroyer ROKS Choi Young will be joining operation Atalanta, an EU-led counter-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia, in March this year.
The Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin-class destroyer will work with EU NAVFOR warships to prevent acts of piracy that plagued the waters off the coast of Somalia just a few years ago.
The Hyundai Heavy Industries-built, 4,400 tonne destroyer has 300 crew members, Lynx helicopters and a special operations team on board.
The contribution of a Korean warship to Operation Atalanta has been made possible by the EU-Republic of Korea Framework Agreement, which has been in force since December 2016 and foresees the possible participation of Korea in EU crisis management operations.
It also follows a number of successful meetings and exercises between EU NAVFOR and Korean warships in the Gulf of Aden over the past few years. Korea has also contributed warships to the Combined Maritime Forces, based in Bahrain.
Choi Young’s command team will co-ordinate day-to-day counter-piracy operations with EU NAVFOR staff on board operation Atalanta’s flagship, ESPS Galicia.
The EU launched EU NAVFOR Somalia, operation Atalanta, in December 2008 following a surge in armed pirate attacks. Its key role is to protect World Food Programme vessels carrying humanitarian aid to Somali ports and to deter and repress pirate attacks. EU NAVFOR warships also monitor fishing activities off the Somali coast and support EU sister missions that are working to strengthen maritime security and capacities in the Horn of Africa region.