USS Destroyer and Canadian Naval Warships make first docking at Jeju naval base

Posted on : 2017-06-21 13:42 KST Modified on : 2017-06-21 13:42 KST
Civic groups oppose the dockings, arguing Jeju naval base will be used as a base for the US in northeast Asia
Members of civic groups hold a demonstration near Jeju naval base
Members of civic groups hold a demonstration near Jeju naval base

US Navy Aegis-equipped destroyers and other foreign warships have been using the Jeju naval base more and more frequently since its Feb. 2016 completion.

The South Korean Navy announced that the USS Dewey, an Aegis-equipped destroyer with the US Navy, entered the base and finished mooring at around 8:20 am on June 20. The Dewey is the second US Navy vessel to put in at the Jeju naval base, after the Aegis-equipped destroyer USS Stedham on Mar. 25.

The Dewey was at the base to participate in joint naval exercises by the South Korean, US, and Canadian navies in the waters off Jeju Island on June 23-25. An Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the Dewey measures 155.3 meters in length, 20 meters in height, and 9,2000 tons and travels at speeds of up to 30 knots, with a crew of around 380. Canada’s HMCS Winnipeg and HMCS Ottawa are scheduled to arrive on June 22.

Use of the Jeju naval base by foreign naval vessels appears likely to become more frequent as US and Canadian ships arrive to hold joint naval exercises in the waters near Jeju.

The Gangjeong Village Association and groups including the National Provincial Residents’ Measures Committee to Stop the Jeju Naval Base and Achieve an Island of Peace and the National Committee for Countermeasures against the Jeju Naval Base held a press conference in front of the base‘s entrance on the morning of June 20 to oppose the Dewey’s arrival and call for a halt to the exercises.

 opposing the docking of US and Canadian vessels
opposing the docking of US and Canadian vessels

“North Korea has objected vehemently to continued South Korea-US military exercises, which have repeatedly been the chief cause for its missile launches that have increased the threat of war on the Korean Peninsula,” the groups said.

“The fact that even Canada is taking part in these combined military exercises only adds to our concern,” they said.

The groups also noted that “the risk of Jeju Island being used as a major US base in Northeast Asia has been raised since the time the base was under construction.”

“Yet the Navy and Ministry of National Defense have insisted that the Jeju naval base isn‘t for the US military, and that it would only be used as an operational and munitions base for South Korean naval vessels,” they said.

“This US destroyer’s arrival at the Jeju base will result in its use as a US military base becoming a foregone conclusion, and will only exacerbate the threat to peace on the Korean Peninsula and the military frictions in Northeast Asia,” they predicted.

The groups went on to say they “refuse to allow Jeju Island to become an epicenter for military frictions in Northeast Asia that increase the threat of war on the Korean Peninsula.”

“We will not stop in our resistance to keep Jeju an island of life and peace,” they pledged.

The US Navy destroyers’ arrival on Jeju Island was the first since the destroyer USS Craig in May 1948, the year of Jeju’s April 3 Uprising.

By Huh Ho-joon, Jeju correspondent

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