South Korean launches second Incheon-class frigate

The Korean Incheon-class frigate is a ‘coastal defence frigate’ that will replace the aging Pohang-class corvettes in their patrol and maritime security rôle. The building programme is scheduled to place 15 ships in service by 2020.

South Korea launches second Incheon frigate

South Korea has launched its second Incheon-class FFX coastal defense vessel, Yonhap news agency reported.

SEOUL, July 25 (UPI) — South Korea has launched its second Incheon-class FFX coastal defense vessel, Yonhap News Agency reported.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and senior naval officials attended the launching ceremony for the 2,300-ton frigate Gyeonggi at Hyundai Heavy Industry’s shipyard in the southeastern city of Ulsan.

The Incheon, lead vessel in the class, was designed under the government’s Future Frigate Experimental program and launched in January.

Yonhap reported naval officials said the Gyeonggi — named after Gyeonggi province that surrounds Seoul — will be delivered to the navy next year and deployed for operation in 2015.

The Incheon is expected to be commissioned next year.

About 20 frigates will be built to replace the country’s aging Ulsan and Pohang patrol escort ships by 2020. The vessels were built between the early 1980s and the early 1990s.

The Pohang-class vessels were built by Korea Shipbuilding Corp., Hyundai Heavy Industries, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Korea Takoma. Hyundai Heavy Industries also built the Ulsan guided missile ships.

The Incheon and Gyeonggi vessels are South Korea’s first coastal patrol vessels built after the sinking of the patrol ship Cheonan — a Pohang-class ship — allegedly by North Korea in March 2010. The incident raised many questions by South Korean politicians and defense analysts about the condition of the navy’s equipment.

The 1,200-ton naval corvette Cheonan sank rapidly after an explosion from a suspected torpedo ripped the vessel in half. It sank just more than 1 mile southwest of Baeknyeong Island near the de facto sea border with North Korea.

North Korea consistently denies it had anything to do with the sinking.

The South Korean government also became concerned the country’s maritime protection was left wanting in the face of increasing intrusions by foreign fishing ships, especially Chinese and North Korean, into its economic zones.

In December 2011, then-South Korean President Lee Myung-bak called for “strong” measures to protect the country’s coast guard sailors during an increasing crackdown on illegal fishing by Chinese boats. Lee said he wanted no repeat of the attack earlier that month on two coast guard sailors during a raid on a Chinese boat suspected of fishing illegally in South Korean waters earlier.

A coast guard officer allegedly was stabbed by the captain of the Chinese fishing boat and died shortly after in hospital. Another coast guard member was stabbed but lived, Yonhap reported.

The confrontation between the coast guard and Chinese fishing vessel was one of the most difficult in years, said the team that boarded the ship, a report in Joongang Daily said at the time.

http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Security-Industry/2013/07/25/South-Korea-launches-second-Incheon-frigate/UPI-80921374746520/

Veterans mission to search North Korea for remains of US Navy aviator

Despite our shaky diplomatic relations with the DPRK, there are things that we have an obligation to do. This is one of them.

U.S. hero pays respects in North Korea, hopes weather allows search for remains

Jesse Brown, the first African-American Navy aviator, crash landed in what is now North Korea on December 4, 1950.

Editor’s note: CNN is one of three news organizations accompanying Korean War veterans on their trip to North Korea.

Pyongyang, North Korea (CNN) — The last time Thomas Hudner was in North Korea, he was fighting for his life.

Sunday, more than six decades later, he paid his respects to the ruler who led that fight against him and his fellow Americans.

Hudner, a retired U.S. Navy captain, is leading a delegation that hopes — weather permitting — to search for the remains of Ensign Jesse Brown, the Navy’s first African-American aviator. Hudner and fellow Korean war veteran Richard Bonelli went to Pyongyang’s Palace of the Sun — the most hallowed site in North Korea — on Sunday.

Following protocol, each man stopped and bowed before the glass caskets of Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s founder, and his son Kim Jong Il, who ruled for 18 years following his father’s 1994 death.

“It was a matter of respect,” Hudner, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his attempt to save Brown, told CNN.

Thomas Hudner made a promise to the mortally wounded pilot Jesse Brown that he would come back for him.

The visit comes ahead of the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended three years of fighting in Korea, on July 27. Hudner, Bonelli and the rest of the group are scheduled to travel to North Korea’s Chosin Reservoir, the scene of some of the most desperate fighting of the conflict, in search of Brown’s remains.Weather reports indicated heavy rain was likely in the northeastern North Korea, where Brown’s crash site is located. The Americans don’t plan to stay for the massive military parade on what Pyongyang calls “Victory Day,” but expressed hope that whether they get the chance to look for Brown’s remains or not, the visit will improve severely strained relations between the two countries.

Hudner’s biographer, Adam Makos, said the 88-year-old former pilot showed great dignity by paying respect to the North’s former leaders, as protocol required.

“He wears the gold medal for bravery, but it also represents character,” said Makos, who first suggested the trip to Hudner. “Because when you study the action of how he earned that medal, it is about great character, risking his life to save a friend. And today, he put his ego aside and he said. ‘You know, I’m going to show respect to a man once considered our foe.’ And that’s the ultimate sign of a warrior.”

Brown’s F-4U Corsair crashed in December 1950 while providing air cover for American troops who found themselves battling Chinese forces near the frozen reservoir. Hudner, then a lieutenant junior grade, was his wingman.

Hudner deliberately crashed his plane near Brown’s to try to save him, but Brown was trapped in his cockpit and died shortly afterwards. Hudner was awarded America’s top military decoration for the effort, while the Navy named a frigate after Brown in 1973.

“It was very different,” Hudner says of his first experience of North Korea. “That time we were bitter enemies. And I hope that our trip here can foster relations which will be good not only for our two countries, but for the whole world to see this.”

In the visitors’ book at the newly renovated Palace of the Sun, Hudner wrote, “It was a memorable experience.” He now knows more about the achievements of the Korean people, he wrote.

Chosin — known in North Korea as Jangjin — Reservoir was one of the bloodiest battles of the Korean War. More than 3,000 American soldiers and Marines and an estimated 35,000 Chinese troops were killed during a two-week withdrawal under fire by U.S. and allied forces.

Hudner and Bonelli, who was one of those badly outnumbered Marines, also saw two rooms filled with the leaders’ medals, plus the train carriages used to travel around the country and beyond. North Korean officials say Kim Jong Il died in one of those coaches.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/21/world/asia/north-korea-veterans/index.html

Panama intercepts illegal North Korea arms shipment to Cuba

Hidden behind sacks of sugar. Ye gods! Straight out of a B-movie.

Panama Seizes North Korea-Flagged Ship for Weapons

The Panamanian authorities have seized a North Korean-flagged ship traveling from Cuba through the Panama Canal that was carrying “undeclared military cargo,” and Panama’s president said late Monday that the cargo was presumably “sophisticated missile equipment.”

The president, Ricardo Martinelli said in a radio interview that the illegal cargo was found in two containers hidden behind a large shipment of sugar. In a Twitter posting he included a photo of what looked like a green tubular object in a container.

The United Nations has imposed broad sanctions on North Korea that seek to curtail its ability to export and import weaponry, particularly missile components and technology. Earlier this month, the United States blacklisted a general in Myanmar, Thein Htay, for buying military goods from North Korea.

American officials say that North Korea’s arms trade has helped finance the country’s nuclear and missile ambitions. In February, North Korea carried out its third nuclear test, a detonation that led to a tightened round of sanctions imposed by the United Nations and supported by North Korea’s longtime ally and benefactor, China.

In his remarks on Radio Panama, Mr. Martinelli said the ship was headed to North Korea and that the captain tried to commit suicide during the episode.

The president said the ship would undergo a thorough inspection to look for weapons being transported illegally through the Panama Canal. The 35 North Koreans on board were being detained after they resisted efforts to take the ship to the Caribbean port of Manzanillo.

“We’re going to keep unloading the ship and figure out exactly what was inside,” he said. “You cannot go around shipping undeclared weapons of war through the Panama Canal.”

Mr. Martinelli’s remarks about the cargo possibly containing missile components have not been independently verified.

The seizure comes as Panama and South Korea, the North’s sworn enemy, have been strengthening ties and exploring a possible free trade agreement.


www.nytimes.com/2013/07/17/world/americas/panama-seizes-north-korea-flagged-ship-for-weapons.html