Korea to Send Warship to Somalia in March

From the Korea Times:

The National Assembly’s National Defense Committee approved a motion to deploy a warship to Somali waters to fight pirate attacks, Thursday.

The motion is expected to pass in a vote by lawmakers during a plenary session next week.

If passed, the Navy will deploy a 4,500-ton, 310-strong warship, the Munmu the Great destroyer, to waters off Somalia in mid-March to protect South Korean ships and crewmembers, Minister of National Defense Lee Sang-hee said during the committee session.

The deployment mission would expire on Dec. 31.

The move came after several South Koreans were kidnapped and held captive by pirates in the region.

According to the government, over 110 incidents involving pirates took place last year in the area. About 460 South Korean ships ply the Gulf of Aden route annually.

Recently, crew members, including five South Koreans, on board the Japanese-owned cargo ship Chemstar Venus, which was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden last November, were released after three months in captivity.

Last month, the Cabinet endorsed the plan to send a warship to fight pirates and terrorism and to ensure maritime security in the waters off the East African nation.

The move is also aimed at joining the United Nations global anti-piracy activities. Britain, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China and other countries have joined the U.S. led-anti-piracy campaign in the region.

Last year, the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution authorizing its member governments to combat the pirates problems in the waters off Somalia.

The resolution allows the member states to “undertake all necessary measures in Somalia” to capture pirates.

Press reports state Chemstar Venus was released after a ransom payment was made.  Guess the ROKs are getting tired of getting the shake-down.

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