중앙데일리

Navy secretly moves base to Busan

Dec 03,2007
Navy destroyers anchor at a pier of the new operational headquarters of the Korean Navy in Yongho-dong, Busan on Saturday. The Navy moved its base to Busan from Jinhae, South Gyeongsang over the weekend. By Song Bong-geun
BUSAN ― After a secret move, the new operational command of the Navy at Busan opened for business yesterday.
Leaving its base in Jinhae, South Gyeonsang, where it had been for 55 years, the move was conducted under clandestine conditions. The operation took place under the military code “sunrise.”
The Navy said it didn’t want to upset the citizens of Jinhae or interrupt the flow of naval operations.
Key equipment and data were moved by the Navy’s landing, ship and tank vessels.
Vice Admiral Ahn Ki-suk, in charge of daily operations yesterday, spent the early morning hours at Jinhae before moving to Busan later in the day.
Jinhae was and still is a naturally good place for defense because it is surrounded by small islands, Ahn said.
Nevertheless, to protect fishing resources, naval vessels were not allowed to operate in the area above 15 knots (17 mph), thus it took two to three hours just to get to nearby Busan, Ahn said.
The decision to convert the existing Busan Naval base to operational headquarters was easy, Ahn said. Now, all the Navy’s key assets will be placed in Busan in order to be able to send out forces in all directions quickly.
Since the Busan base is larger than Jinhae, a total of 30 vessels, including air craft carriers and the Navy’s 7,000-ton Aegis class destroyers, can now converge at the same time.
“Not only will the base respond to various conflicts near the Korean Peninsula, but also to other things,” said a government official who declined to be named. “There is an increasing demand to protect the shipping lanes connecting Jeju Island, the Philipines, and the Strait of Malacca and to support peace keeping operations.”
The official added that the increased capacity of the naval base would make a joint operation with other naval forces easier as well.
The Busan naval base was completed last year.
“The Dokdo-ham is currently passing the Strait of Malacca,” crackled the first incoming message over a satellite phone to Ahn.


By Im Jang-hyuk JoongAng Ilbo [africanu@joongang.co.kr]


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