South Korea, Japan join U.S. Navy for Somali coast drills

By Elizabeth Shim  |  April 21, 2017 at 11:33 AM
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April 21 (UPI) -- An international naval force that includes the United States and South Korea conducted anti-piracy drills off the coast of Somalia.

The naval exercise also involved British and Japanese forces Thursday in preparing the coalition for future conflicts in the Gulf of Aden, Yonhap reported Friday.

"The latest joint exercise helped build up trust among the navies of the four countries and beef up their joint operability," said South Korean Navy Capt. Kim Kyung-ryul.

Japanese Rear Adm. Tatsuya Fukuda took charge of the exercise.

Fukuda is the commander of Combined Task Force-151, a coalition commissioned to crack down on piracy and armed robbery in the Arabian Sea.

Countries sent their most powerful ships: The U.S. Navy deployed the 16,000-ton USS Carter Hall, a Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship that once fired warnings shots at a Dutch commercial vessel during a standoff with pirates in the Somali coast in 2007.

Japan deployed the 5,000-ton destroyer Teruzuki, South Korea the 4,400-ton destroyer Choe Yeong, and the British navy the 4,200-ton frigate Monmouth, according to Seoul's joint chiefs of staff.

The United States, South Korea and Japan previously conducted anti-piracy training in December 2013, and the three countries agreed to strengthen cooperation in May 2015, during the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue.

Hijackings of commercial ships continue off the coast of Somalia.

In March, Somali pirates, who eventually released all eight crewmembers without ransom, hijacked the Sri Lankan tanker Aris 13.

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