South Korea Navy makes port call in Saudi Arabia for 1st time since 2015

According to information published by the South Korean MoD on December 5, 2023, the Republic of Korea Navy's Cruise Training Task Group recently made a significant visit to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This visit, which took place on October 1, is the first time in eight years since 2015 that the task group has visited Saudi Arabia.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 South Korean helicopter training ship ROKS Hansando. (Picture source: Canadian Navy)

During their four-day stay in Jeddah, the task group engaged in military diplomacy activities aimed at fostering friendship and cooperation between the navies of South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

The Cruise Training Task Group comprises approximately 500 personnel, including 151 cadets of the 78th class of the Korean Naval Academy, who are expected to be commissioned next year.

The cruise training, which began in 1954, is a deep-sea navigation training program designed to equip senior cadets with the skills and adaptability required for naval officers. This year, which marks the 70th iteration of the program, includes visits to 14 ports in 13 countries as part of its global circumnavigation.

Saudi Arabia-South Korea

In March 2022, Saudi Arabia's Defence Ministry signed an $800 million deal with Hanwha, a major South Korean defense company. Additionally, contracts worth $989 million were signed with three unnamed Korean defense companies. These deals indicate Saudi Arabia's growing interest in diversifying its defense procurement, moving beyond traditional suppliers like the United States.

About the training ship

The ROKS Hansando is a naval vessel with a full load displacement of 4,300 tonnes. It spans a length of 142.0 meters and has a beam of 25.0 meters. The ship's propulsion system includes a diesel engine and electric motor, driving two shafts. This configuration enables the ROKS Hansando to achieve a speed of 24 knots and a range of approximately 6,479.5 nautical miles.

With a complement capacity of 150 personnel, the ship is equipped for various naval tasks. Its defensive capabilities are enhanced by MASS decoy launchers. In terms of armaments, the ROKS Hansando is armed with a 1 × OTO Melara 76 mm gun and a 1 × Bofors 40 mm gun.

The vessel also features aviation facilities, including a hangar and a helipad, allowing for the operation of naval helicopters. These facilities enhance the ship's operational scope, including reconnaissance and search and rescue missions.