South Korean navy vessels arrive, but sailors restricted to base

South Korean navy arrives

A South Korea Navy destroyer and tanker ship arrived at CFB Esquimalt Friday, taking a break from exercises in the Pacific to give its 440 crew a weekend on solid ground.

The port visit for the Republic of Korea ships involves the destroyer Wang Geon (DDH 978) and fuel and supply ship Soyang, which will be tied up at CFB Esquimalt until Monday morning.

The sailors will be restricted to the base.

Maritime Forces Pacific had said earlier that anyone from the ship with a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen detection test result on arrival would be allowed ashore as long as they followed local health guidelines, adding they would be presenting Korean proof of vaccination to local businesses. However, the liaison officer of the Korean ships said crew members would not be leaving the base.

The Korean sailors were set to take part in welcoming ceremonies at CFB Esquimalt Friday, but their off-ship activities will be limited to the base, said Lt.(N) Pamela Hogan of Maritime Forces Pacific Public Affairs.

“They can use services like the gym and Cannex store at the base,” she said.

Maritime Forces Pacific said the Korean navy confirmed there are no positive COVID-19 cases onboard either of the visiting vessels.

In order to meet Canadian entry requirements, personnel onboard visiting ships must complete COVID-19 rapid testing within 24 hours of leaving their last port of call. Crew members are also administered COVID-19 tests when they arrive at CFB Esquimalt.

The 493-foot ROK Wang Geon, launched in 2004, is considered the first stealthy major ship in Korea’s navy.

The base is also playing host to New Zealand warship Te Mana as it undergoes repairs and other modifications.

The Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Winnipeg is doing patrols and exercises in the Asia Pacific Region, while HMCS Saskatoon and Brandon have just left the base for exercises.

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