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[Opinion] Naval Fleet Review

Posted October. 09, 2008 20:20,   


Off the coast of Busan on Tuesday afternoon, the Korean destroyer Kang Gam-chan, carrying President Lee Myung-bak, passed the 18000-ton Dokdo large-deck landing ship with about 2,000 dignitaries on board and sailed at the head of the fleet. As two inspection ships aligned in front of and back of the destroyer, 20 naval and coast guard vessels, which lined up while waiting, sailed past the inspection ships one after another, with Aegis-class destroyer King Sejong the Great at the head of the line. Other destroyers, convoy ships, patrol ships, and submarines followed. The chants of troops giving a salute reverberated through the open sea.

At the same time, naval airplanes, helicopters and combat aircraft performed air show and paratroopers of the Underwater Demolition Team showcased their sea mission. The inspection ships reviewed 20 warships from 12 countries around the world. The participating countries, except for China, Russia, and Japan, fought in the Korean War. The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, India, and Thailand sent their warships. Also included was the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, which was dispatched from Japan’s Yokosuka Naval Base, home to the U.S. Navy`s 7th Fleet, and three Aegis destroyers. This international fleet review culminated in naval gun and helicopter shootings and an amphibious landing.

The naval fleet review that held to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Korea’s Armed Forces showed off Korean navy’s prowess and reminded the importance of traditional military alliances and military diplomacy. Korea’s Aegis destroyers and landing ships along with the U.S. naval fleet is the barometer of the combat capability of the Korean and U.S forces in the event of emergencies. Following the Korea-U.S. joint military drill in Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province on Sept. 26, which showcased air and ground combat capabilities of the two countries, the naval review boasted the military power of the combined forces. The fleet review has also paved the way for military exchanges between neighboring powerhouses such as China, Russia, and Japan.

Naval power symbolizes national strength. The power of Britain that once called the empire on which the sun never sets stemmed from naval power. And the same is true for the United States, the only superpower on the planet. Korea, who depends on exports for economic driving engine and imports almost all of its oil, must secure sea routes because its three sides are surrounded by the sea. Suppressing North Korea’s military aggression is not the only goal of the Korean Navy. In this context, the plan to set up Jeju naval base must be pushed ahead to build more capable navy forces.

Editorial Writer Yuk Jeong-soo (sooya@donga.com)