The Cheonghae Unit, which was deployed in March 2009 to join an international anti-piracy campaign in the Gulf of Aden off the Somali coast, has thus far subdued pirate ships on 15 occasions.
The unit, consisting of a 4,500-ton destroyer, a helicopter and three high-speed boats, has also escorted hundreds of vessels passing through the waters off Somalia and assisted in their safe navigation.
The first destroyer to be deployed by the anti-piracy unit was Munmu the Great, which defeated pirate ships seven times and rescued a Danish cargo ship called Puma in April 2009 from pirates.
The unit’s second destroyer Daejoyoung was dispatched in July that year. Daejoyoung saved a Bahamian vessel named Notos Scan a month later by raiding a pirate ship, and rescued three more commercial vessels including the Cyprus-registered Alexandria and five Yemeni crewmembers held by pirates in September.
The third destroyer Chungmugong Yi Sun-shin, sent to the area in November 2009, crushed pirates twice and escorted 460 vessels before returning to the South Korean port of Jinhae in May last year.
The Cheonghae Unit’s duties also include providing medical aid for injured crewmembers on board ships navigating in the area.
The unit’s fourth destroyer the Gang Gam-chan offered medical assistance and helped transporting patients from a Bahamian flagged drilling ship to a nearby hospital in May last year. It also provided medical treatment for patients on a Hong Kong-registered vessel last August.
The fifth destroyer Wang Geon escorted 432 vessels including the South Korean oil tanker Samho Dream after it was released from pirates. Twenty-four crewmembers of the Samho Dream including five Koreans were freed in early November last year, 217 days after the ship was hijacked. The ship was ransomed for $9.5 million ― the largest known payment following negotiations with Somali pirates.
The sixth destroyer Choi Young, which departed Jinhae early last month, left Djibouti early Sunday and succeeded in rescuing all the 21 crewmembers on board the hijacked Samho Jewelry on Friday.
By Kim So-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)