The visit is part of the ROKN (Republic of Korea Navy) Cruise Training Task Group’s attempts to adapt to "real maritime environments" — the group's 16th visit to the country since 1975.
Two South Korean naval ships have cast anchor off Indian shores, at the port of Chennai, as part of a friendly visit to the country. The visit is part of the ROKN (Republic of Korea Navy) Cruise Training Task Group’s attempts to adapt to "real maritime environments" — the group's 16th visit to the country since 1975.
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The ships — ROKS Hasando and ROKS Daecheong — have 470 Korean Navy personnel on board, including 164 final-year cadets of the Korean Naval Academy.
"The ROKS Hasando is a training ship built primarily for education and training, and comes with state-of-the-art simulations and equipment," said Chief of Staff (ROKN), Jae Jun You, in a brief interaction with the media. "The ship has lecture rooms with a crew capacity of 200," he added.
Commissioned in 2021, the Hasando also comes with hospital rooms operation theatres and a helipad. Incidentally, the vessel is South Korea's first-ever ship exclusively built for crew training.
The second ship, ROKS Daecheong, a Cheonji-class fast combat support ship, was commissioned in 1997 and built primarily for logistics purposes. According to a ROKN release, the vessel can supply ammunition, fuel, fresh water and other logistics support to combat ships in active naval operations.
Both ships come with defense capabilities like torpedoes and anti-aircraft guns. The Hasando, in particular, is equipped with a single OTO 76mm gun, a Bofors 40mm gun — both used in anti-aircraft applications — and MASS decoy launchers. The presence of ammunition on board makes these vessels true-blue warships, aside from their core support and training roles.
Explained: Passex operations
Over the course of the next few days, both naval vessels will be engaged in joint exercises with the Indian Navy off the Chennai coast. "We will be conducting Passex exercises with the Indian Navy," said You. Passex — otherwise known as passing exercises — are joint exercises conducted by two navies to help communicate and cooperate with each other better during times of war and humanitarian missions.
"The aim of the visit from a larger standpoint is to understand Indian culture better and strengthen strategic relations between both countries," the chief of staff added, "There is a large Korean community in Chennai, and the city is commercially significant for Korea given that there is a large number of Korean companies located here. So, we hope to spend the next few days strengthening our relations with the country and this city."
The Chennai pit-stop is part of a 110-day voyage undertaken by the Cruise Training Task Group, covering nine countries and 10 ports in the Indo-Pacific Region. Both ships will set sail from Chennai for Jakarta, Indonesia, on October 1 before they visit Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Hawaii.
"India has played a significant role in helping Korea in its fight for democracy and in the Korean War," said South Korean Consul General, Young-seup Kwon, acknowledging India-Korea defense relations, while welcoming the crew of both ships.
Chennai is home to a 4,000-strong Korean community, employed mainly at the approximately 200 South Korean companies that have established their Indian operations in the city. Over the next few days, the 460-member crew of both vessels will engage in community engagement activities like a beach clean-up drive at the famous Marina Beach. Officers of the Indian navy will host their Korean counterparts on Friday.
(Edited by : Jomy Jos Pullokaran)