US Navy to visit Republic of Korea island for first time

USS Stethen (DDG 63) transits waters east of the Korean peninsula during a photo exercise including the United States Navy and the Republic of Korea Navy during Operation Foal Eagle March 22nd. . The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group is on a regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment as part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet-led initiative to extend the command and control functions of U.S. 3rd Fleet. U.S. Navy aircraft carrier strike groups have patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific regularly and routinely for more than 70 years. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kurtis A. Hatcher)

March 23, 2017 – The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) is scheduled to arrive in Jeju-do, Republic of Korea (ROK), March 25. This will mark the first visit by any U.S. Navy ship since the ROK Joint Civil-Military Complex opened, Feb. 26.

Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Korea, will greet the ship along with Rear Adm. Kim, Jeongsu, commander of Maritime Task Force Flotilla 7, as more than 100 ROK sailors welcome Stethem to the southern island.

“This may the first time we [U.S. Navy] will visit Jeju, but he have a long history of visiting the Republic of Korea at ports in Pyeongtaek, Donghae, Mokpo, and Busan,” said Cooper. “So, while the location may be new, our commitment to being good guests, respectful partners, and strong allies is as firm as ever.”

The ship is going to Jeju as part of a routine port visit following the ship’s participation in Foal Eagle 17, a joint exercise between the Republic of Korea Navy and U.S. Navy.

“We enjoy any time we get to train with our ROK partners because with each engagement we improve our cooperation, and through that we enhance our combined defensive capabilities,” said Cmdr. Douglas Pegher, Stethem’s commanding officer. “We have trained with them at-sea and look forward to strengthening our relationship here in Jeju.”

While in Jeju, Stethem Sailors will have the opportunity to participate in various Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) activities and sporting events, and participate in community relations projects to give back to the local Jeju community.

“We are honored to be here and develop new friendships and strengthen existing relationships through team building exercise, combined sporting events, and by giving back to the island through a community relations event,” said Cmdr. Jeff W. Benson, Stethem’s executive officer.

Stethem is on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

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