Korean Navy launches 1st destroyer task flotilla

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Korean Navy launches 1st destroyer task flotilla

The South Korean Navy yesterday established its first maritime task flotilla capable of fulfilling operations quickly and completely around the globe in case of emergency.

Organized by Admiral Jung Ok-keun, Korea’s chief of naval operations, the founding ceremony for the flotilla was held at the Naval Force Operations Command in Busan.

The “Maritime Task Flotilla 7,” which is equipped for mobility and speed, has flexible capabilities to fulfill national strategic goals, including deterring warfare and threatened military actions, and quickly ending military disputes.

The 7,600-ton warship King Sejong the Great, which is equipped with Aegis, an integrated naval weapons system, will be the frontrunner of the flotilla. Six other 4,500-ton KDX-II class multipurpose destroyers, including Munmu the Great, Chungmugong Yi Sun-shin and Daejoyeong, will follow behind.

In case of a real threat or hostile action, other back-up fighters, including the 14,500-ton amphibious Dokdo ship, 1,800-ton submarines, maneuvering war supply ships and combat helicopters, will augment the flotilla.

During peacetime, the MTF 7 will operate as two separate subordinate units, with one stationed in Busan and one in Jinhae in South Gyeongsang. Each unit will secure marine transportation routes, maintain combat readiness against North Korea and assist South Korea’s overseas aid policy.

When the new naval base on Jeju Island is completed in 2014, the flotilla will be divided into three units and headquartered at the Jeju base.

The South Korean Navy’s second Aegis destroyer, Yulgok Yi Yi, which is scheduled to be handed over to the Navy in August, will be included in the MTF 7.

After the destroyer is tested, it will be engaged in combat situations either by the end of next year or in early 2012. The ship is named for one of South Korea’s most respected 16th-century Confucian scholars.

The Navy also plans to build six new 5,600-ton KDX-IIA class destroyers, which will be used as the main powers leading the flotilla.

The South’s Navy said it has laid the groundwork for carrying out independent operations not only near the shore but also in remote offshore areas.

South Korean Navy Commodore Lee Beom-rim was named the commander of the MTF 7. Commissioned as an ensign at the Korea Naval Academy in 1982, Lee had been a commander of the destroyer Munmu the Great and the policy director at the South Korean Navy headquarters at Gyeryongdae, South Chungcheong.

“The establishment of the flotilla is a sign that we are becoming one of the powerful navies in the world, the goal we have been dreamed of,” said Admiral Jung. “MTF 7 will fully support national policy and it is going to accomplish assigned duties so that it will stand alongside other advanced countries’ navies.”

By Lee Min-yong [smartpower@joongang.co.kr]

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