By Lt. Arlo Abrahamson, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea Public Affairs
SEOUL, Republic of Korea (NNS) -- U.S. Navy ships assigned to the U.S. 7th Fleet arrived in the Republic of Korea (ROK) March 4-5 in preparation for the upcoming Foal Eagle exercises with the ROK navy.
Members of the ROK navy welcomed the guided-missile destroyers USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112), USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) to Pyeongtaek, while the guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) arrived in the city of Donghae. The safeguard-class rescue and salvage ship USNS Salvor (T-ARS 52) also arrived in Chinhae.
The port visits provided members of both navies the opportunity to conduct theater security cooperation engagements and rehearse training scenarios for the Foal Eagle exercises, which run from March to April this year.
"Foal Eagle is a critical event for our strategic ROK-U.S. alliance," said Capt. Shan Byrne, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 15. "It also enhances our capabilities and interoperability with the ROK Navy. This continues to support our commitment to stability and security in this region."
Exercise Foal Eagle is an umbrella of regularly-scheduled, annual exercises that are the culmination of many months of planning and based on realistic training scenarios. The naval portion of the Foal Eagle exercises take place in international waters around South Korea and features a full spectrum of maritime operations.
The training incorporates scenarios such as gunnery exercises, communication drills, dynamic ship maneuvers, logistical rehearsals, salvage training, and liaison officer exchanges with the ROK navy.
"With two destroyer squadrons now forward deployed in the Asia-Pacific and participating in Foal Eagle, there is an even greater opportunity to work alongside and learn from our counterparts in the Republic of Korea Navy," said Capt. H. B. Le, Destroyer Squadron 7 deputy commodore and embarked on Lassen during the exercise. "Conducting high-end, realistic naval operations at-sea with our Korean allies is crucial as we work together to tackle dynamic maritime security challenges."
Michael Murphy, John S. McCain, and Lassen, each with a crew of about 300 Sailors, are conducting routine patrols throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region in support of the U.S. 7th Fleet. As multi-mission platforms, these ships can carry out independent operations or operate in conjunction with a carrier strike group or other partner navies to conduct maritime security and stability operations across the region.
Fort Worth is deployed with the surface warfare mission package and has a crew of about 100 to include Sailors from the embarked aviation and surface warfare detachments. An aviation detachment from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 35, the Navy's first composite expeditionary helicopter squadron, operates the MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter and MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system, while the surface warfare mission package detachment augments Fort Worth's 57mm gun and rolling airframe missile launcher with two 30mm guns, two 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boats, and two six-member maritime security boarding teams.
The ship is currently on a 16-month rotational deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and is making its inaugural visit to Korea to participate in Foal Eagle alongside ROK Navy counterparts.
"This year's Foal Eagle bilateral naval exercises demonstrate the strong and continuing partnership between the ROK and U.S. navies," said Cmdr. Lee, Jong, Sik, of the Republic of Korea Fleet. "We are bringing together valuable expertise and knowledge from both navies and applying these skills in a realistic training environment."