The 300-strong 31st contingent of the Cheonghae Unit departs for the Gulf of Aden for the next six months aboard the 4,500-ton destroyer Wang Geon from a naval base in Busan on Dec. 27. [YONHAP]South Korea will deploy its antipiracy unit to the Strait of Hormuz for defensive purposes independent of a U.S.-led maritime coalition, Seoul’s Ministry of National Defense announced Tuesday.The Navy’s Cheonghae antipiracy unit, which currently protects international shipping in the Gulf of Aden, will have its operational range expanded to include the Strait of Hormuz “to uphold the safety of our people and freedom of navigation,” said a ministry official. This decision comes after months of pressure from the United States to enlist South Korea’s help in an international effort to defend the strait — the transit route for some 70 percent of Korea’s oil imports — amid escalating tensions with Iran. In December, the South Korean government was leaning toward joining the U.S.-led maritime coalition, called the International Maritime Security Conduct (IMSC), but that threatened friction with Iran, from which Seoul imports around 13 percent of its crude oil. In a press conference on Monday, the chairman of the National Assembly’s Defense Committee, Rep. Ahn Gyu-back,… Read full this story
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