Three S. Korean naval ships to make port call at Japan’s Sasebo naval base

SEOUL, Oct. 7 (Yonhap) -- Three South Korean naval ships carrying hundreds of military cadets will make a port call at Japan's Sasebo naval base early next month, officials said Sunday.

The flotilla of three ships -- comprising the lead vessel, 4,000-ton destroyer Dae Jo Yeong, and two amphibious landing ships, the Cheon Wang Bong and Il Chul Bong -- will depart from the Korean naval base of Pyeongtaek to Sasebo via Jeju Island as part of a training cruise. The ships will visit ports in neighboring countries from Oct. 28 through Nov. 18.

About 600 students from South Korea's national military, naval and air force academies will be on board the ships, according to the Ministry of National Defense. It is the first time the cadets from the three academies will have taken part in a joint cruise exercise.

After Sasebo, the ships will sail to the Russian port of Vladivostok, the ministry said.

"When we asked Japan (for approval) for the Sasebo port entrance of our warships, Japan said it had decided to welcome them," a military official here said.

The naval exchange with Japan will come despite Toyko's recent decision to skip the five-day International Fleet Review hosted by South Korea off Jeju Island next week amid a dispute over the flying of the Rising Sun flag on a Japanese ship.

"Japanese ships will not participate in the Jeju International Fleet Review, but the two countries still maintain their stance of continuing military cooperation," the official noted.

The South Korean military had initially considered embarking all the cadets on the Dokdo, a large landing platform helicopter vessel, but dropped the idea as the ship is needed to carry out operations in home waters.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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