WESTERN PACIFIC OCEAN, Japan
– The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) hosted four midshipmen from the Republic of Korea Naval Academy (ROKNA ) while underway from August 19 through August 29, 2013 from Yokosuka to Okinawa.
Sang-heon Choi, Myeong-jae Lee, Gyu-hee Lim, and Da-hyeon Seong’s arrival was part of a military exchange program coordinated between the U.S. and South Korean Navies.
Midshipman Lim explained that there are approximately 150 students in his class, but only 18 have the opportunity to pick the location of their summer training—and these four chose to experience the daily life on a U.S. Navy ship. The midshipmen spent 10 days observing and participating in some of the ship’s drills and training evolutions.
As Stethem was underway working towards mission area certifications, the crew was in constant motion executing several events simultaneously. The ROK Midshipmen were able to witness major ship evolutions including daily engineering drills, flight quarters, two underway replenishments, the firing of Stethem’s 25mm guns, Close-In Weapon System, and 5-inch Gun Weapon Systems. During Navigation certifications, the guests were even able to see Stethem safely moor to a buoy and tow another ship, two evolutions that are necessary for the ship’s operability, but only practiced occasionally.
“As we continue to power through the Abbreviated Basic Phase, it was a pleasure to host our guests from the Republic of Korea Naval Academy,” said Lt. Charles Baker, Stethem’s Training Officer. “We were able to offer the midshipmen a two week snapshot of day to day operations in our Navy. It appears they enjoyed themselves immensely. I would count this one as a win.”
Midshipman Lee specifically wanted to know more about U.S. Navy, so he can note some distinctions between “the most powerful navy and the Korean navy, which is also impressive as it has developed over the last 14 years.”
“I loved having the experience of being a conning officer and seeing daily Navy work,” Midshipmen Choi, a company commander at the ROKNA. “I’m proud to be a guest of Stethem.”
“Stethem was happy to host the Republic of Korea Naval Academy Midshipmen, and specifically pleased to share important at sea events from our Abbreviated Basic Phase with future leaders of an allied navy,” said Cmdr. Christopher W. Adams, Stethem’s commanding officer.
Stethem is part of Destroyer Squadron 15, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, to support security and stability of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.