South Korea dispatched the 18th batch of troops to the Gulf of Aden on Monday to continue its commitment to the international effort to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia, the Navy said.
The 4,400-ton destroyer, Wanggeon, departed the southern port city of Busan earlier in the day carrying a 300-strong contingent of the Cheonghae Unit for an anti-piracy mission, according to the Navy.
The service personnel, composed of special forces including Underwater Demolition Team, Navy SEAL team, Marines and Navy pilots, plan to carry out the mission for about six months starting in March of protecting vessels off the Somali coast and in nearby waters. They are participating in the global maritime security operations and diverse military diplomacy activities, it added.
"The Cheonghae Unit has completed their missions without a hitch over the past six years which proves the Navy's capabilities and helped boost national pride," Adm. Hwang Ki-chul, the Navy Chief of Staff, said in a send-off ceremony at the port.
Since its first deployment in the Gulf of Aden in March 2009 as part of global efforts to tackle piracy in the region, the unit has rescued a total of 31 ships and safely escorting some 11,500 ships, including Korean ones, according to the Navy.
In January 2012, Navy commandos from the Cheonghae raided a South Korean freighter that had been hijacked by Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea, rescuing all 21 crew members and killing eight pirates. (Yonhap)