New S. Korean anti-piracy unit starts operations in Somali waters
source: Yonhap News Agency
SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) — A fresh contingent of 300 South Korean troops has begun operating off the Somali coast, replacing an anti-piracy unit that had been deployed there since April, officials said Monday.
The Dae Jo Yeong destroyer took over on Saturday from the 4,500-ton Munmu the Great, which has escorted a total of 300 boats and is due to return to South Korea by mid-October, Joint Chiefs of Staff officials here said.
The 300-crew Munmu the Great, the first South Korean warship sent to operate under the U.S.-led anti-piracy drive, rescued seven commercial vessels, including a North Korean one, during its deployment.
The 4,500 ton Dae Jo Yeong (pictured above) was commissioned in 2003 and can travel at a maximum speed of 29 knots.
Approximately 500 South Korean ships ply the Gulf of Aden each year. About 150 of them are vulnerable to pirate attacks because of their low speed, according to the defense ministry.
Somalia has not had a functional government since its dictator was overthrown by warlords in 1991. Poverty has driven a large number of locals to piracy, and black market sales of weapons run rampant.