S Korea set to hold ASEAN maritime drills

Seoul: A two-part maritime exercise by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its partnering countries is slated to start in South Korea’s port city of Busan this week, the country’s Navy said on Sunday.

The exercise aims to counter maritime crime, including illicit transactions of weapons and other banned items, according to Yonhap News Agency. The drills are scheduled to take place from Monday to Thursday in South Korea, following which they will be held in Singapore from May 9 to May 13.

The maritime exercise involves 18 countries of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus, out of which 12 countries will be sending 16 warships and six aircraft for the exercise. Six other countries are slated to send military personnel.

South Korea’s Navy will send the 4,400-ton destroyer Wang Geon, the 2,500-ton frigate Jeonbuk, 4,900-ton landing ship Cheonjabong, two UH-60 choppers and one Lynx helicopter for the first part of the exercise.

Naval forces from India, Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and the United States, led by the Korean Navy, are scheduled to practice rescuing ships hijacked by armed groups, amongst other maritime security operations.

Japan will be skipping the portion of the drills which will be held in South Korea, probably due to “lingering tensions caused by a military spat with Seoul late last year,” as per Yonhap. It will be joining the drills in Singapore later.