In March 2017 the Republic of Korea’s warship, Choi Young, will join the European Union’s counter-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia, EU NAVFOR Somalia – Operation Atalanta.
The Choi Young will partner EU NAVFOR warships to prevent acts of piracy such as those that plagued the waters off the coast of Somalia just a few years ago. The 4,400 tonne frigate has 300 crew members, Lynx helicopters and a special operations team on board.
The contribution of a Korean warship to Operation Atalanta has been made possible by the EU-Republic of Korea Framework Agreement, which has been in force since December 2016 and foresees the possible participation of Korea in EU crisis management operations. It also follows a number of successful meetings and exercises between EU NAVFOR and Korean warships in the Gulf of Aden over the past few years. Korea has also contributed warships to the Combined Maritime Forces, based in Bahrain.
Choi Young’s command team will co-ordinate day-to-day counter-piracy operations with EU NAVFOR staff on board Operation Atalanta’s flagship, ESPS Galicia.
The EU launched EU NAVFOR Somalia, Operation Atalanta, in December 2008 following a surge in armed pirate attacks. Its key role is to protect World Food Programme vessels carrying humanitarian aid to Somali ports and to deter and repress pirate attacks. EU NAVFOR warships also monitor fishing activities off the Somali coast and support EU sister missions that are working to strengthen maritime security and capacities in the Horn of Africa region.