HMS Spey became the first Royal Navy warship to visit Pyeongtaek in a busy visit to the Republic of Korea.
The patrol ship faced temperatures as low as -17C (-25C with wind chill) while working alongside her Korean and US navy counterparts in a series of exercises.
The stop proved fruitful for the ship’s company who trained in operations they had not faced before; hosted delegates on board to teach them about their roles and learnt about the Korean War in a visit to the Demilitarized Zone
Spey’s first task on arrival was a short period of ship-to-shore exercises with US and Korean personnel. Acting as a planning and operating base, the ship disembarked the foreign personnel onto two combatant boats to carry out infiltration and exfiltration training.
This is the first time she has played this type of role for a raiding exercise, showing how the Batch 2 Offshore Patrol Vessels can be adapted for different uses – further proved when she transported the combatant boats to Pyeongtaek in two trips.
Lieutenant Chris Wykes, Gunnery Officer on HMS Spey, said: “The work I did with the RoKN and US Naval Forces Korea was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am very grateful to have be involved.”
After dropping off the boats, with many thanks from the US Navy, Spey’s sailors visited the Demilitarized Zone to learn more about the history of the Korean War and Cold War. It was the site of peace discussions during the Korean War and has since been the location of various conferences over issues involving North and South Korea, their allies, and the United Nations.
Back in Pyeongtaek, Spey opened up for tours for Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN), embassy staff and senior delegates. Her sailors were then given the chance to visit RoKN ship Geong-gi, being warmly welcomed on board.
They also got to see the Naval Museum of The RoKN Ship Cheonan that sank in 2010 after being struck by a North Korean torpedo. Sadly the lives of 46 sailors on board were lost along with a RoKN diver who died during the subsequent rescue efforts.
During this busy month, Initial Sea Time cadets from Britannia Royal Naval College were on board getting their first experience of life at sea.
For cadet OC Huby, visiting the Demilitarized Zone was an important moment: “To see the DMZ was a privilege and an important reminder of why the RN is helping to strengthen ties, not just with the South Korea, but across other Indo Pacific countries.”
While in Jin Hae, the cadets and ship’s company played a friendly football match against sailors from RoKN ship Jeon-Buk. Both teams had a great afternoon and played valiantly to come away with a 3-3 draw. This was followed by ship tours, attendance at RoKN bridge simulator training and a damage control exercise.
IST cadet OC Jenkinson said: “Being a part of HMS Spey’s ship’s company during our time in South Korea has been an eye-opening experience.
“Both embracing the local culture and learning about the challenges in the region, it has been great to see how the Royal Navy presence in Indo-Asia Pacific is helping to forge positive relationships.”
Commanding Officer Commander Mike Proudman complimented his sailors on their efforts and hard work during their time in South Korea.