South Korean destroyer responds to Red Sea vessel seizures

Dae Jo-yeong and US Navy cruiser Lake Erie

The operations of Western navies in Middle Eastern waters have received considerable publicity over the years.

Little has been heard though, of Seoul’s Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) “Cheonghae” task group, which has been active in the region for the past decade.

This changed in mid-November, when the ROKN destroyer Dae Jo-yeong was deployed from the Gulf of Aden in response to the seizure, reportedly by rebel Houthi elements engaged in the civil war in Yemen, of three vessels.

Dae Jo-yeong is a 4,500-tonne KDX II type destroyer, armed with Haeseong anti-shipping cruise missiles, SM2 Block IIIA air defence missiles and a 127mm gun. It can operate two Super Lynx helicopters.

The ROKN response appears to have been effective. The seized vessels, identified in local reports as the Saudi tug Rabigh 3, and two South Korean craft, namely the tug Woongjin T-1100, and sand dredger Woonjing G-16, together with a total of 16 crew members, were released on November 19, and proceeded to the Saudi port of Jazan.