Two vessels from the Republic of Korea Navy Cruise Training Task Group arrived at the Port of Alaska in Anchorage Thursday morning, according to Port Director Steve Ribuffo. The two ships will remain in port until 8 p.m. Saturday, Ribuffo said.
These two ships stopped to restock and give their crews time off the boat, according to Ribuffo. While the crews are in town they will be going on bus tours around the area but will not be leaving the buses, according to Ribuffo.
It is not unusual for foreign navy vessels to come into the Port of Alaska, according to Ribuffo. Every three to four years, a Japanese Navy vessel stops by, he said. Last year, a vessel from the Japanese Navy stopped in, according to Sheila deVera, who works in the U.S. Department of Defense’s Mission Partner Public Affairs Office. Oftentimes, the DOD is involved in scheduling these trips, she said. In this instance, although the vessels got permission to stop at the Port of Anchorage they were not there to work with the Department of Defense, according to deVera.
Even though the Japanese Navy makes regular appearances, in the 14 years Ribuffo worked at the Port of Alaska, there has never been a ship from the South Korean Navy.
“We particularly enjoy when these kinds of events happen,” Ribuffo said. “It’s out of the ordinary, and it’s an opportunity to extend a hand to an ally who is on the other side of the pacific and who has been supportive of the U.S.”
The Wang Geon is a 492-foot-long Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin-class destroyer with anti-missile capabilities, according to NavyRecognition.com. The Soyang is one of the largest ships in the South Korean Navy, at over 623 feet in length, according to NavyRecognition.com. Like the Wang Geon, the Soyang also has anti-missile capabilities, according to GlobalSecurity.org. Earlier this year, the Soyang delivered COVID aid to the Philippines in the form of hand sanitizer and masks, according to the Philippine News Agency.
The ships’ presence is not related to the joint military drills that the United States and the Republic of South Korea were conducting this summer, according to deVera.