PYEONGTAEK, Republic of Korea - Sailors aboard U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) visited the remains of Republic of Korea's salvaged ship, Cheonan (PCC 772) in Pyongtaek, Republic of Korea, Aug. 24.
An explosion, thought to be a torpedo, near the rear of the Cheonan caused the ship to split into two parts and sink March 26, 2010. The ship was recovered the following month by South Korean and U.S. Navy ships including USNS Salvor (T-ARS 52), USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), and USS Shiloh (CG 67).
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Steve Scrambling, USS Blue Ridge electronics material officer, was a crew member aboard Harpers Ferry when she was called to help salvage Cheonan. Harpers Ferry had just returned from a spring patrol back to Sasebo, Japan, when they got the call for the salvage.
"The ship was resupplied and refueled within 24 hours and then sent out to investigate," said Scrambling. "We were roughly two miles away when the crane lifted the first section of the hull from the water. It was then that reality had set in. We talked about it, and we were briefed about where the sections of the hull were, but when you actually see the crane lift the pieces of the ship from the water, you realize that those were sailors, and that could have been any of us down there."
Full recovery of Cheonan was completed Aug. 25, 2010 with 45 Korean sailors documented as still missing.
"The fact that we could respond so quickly, and provide support to the Korean navy and stabilize the situation, makes it a special time coming back here," said Scrambling. "It's really special to see the teams working together, when you see the common bond between Sailors at sea."
The United States and South Korea have been allied forces since 1953, and continue to work together in the present. The United States works hand in hand with South Korea to enforce the Northern Limit Line between North and South Korea, as well as maintain peace and stability in the region.