South Korea's Navy said Thursday it has kicked off a multinational naval mine warfare exercise in waters south of the Korean Peninsula on Thursday in an effort to enhance combined operational capabilities.
Launched in 2016, the annual exercise is set to run through next Friday in waters southeast of the southern island of Geoje, 330 kilometers southeast of Seoul, involving five members of the US-led UN Command, according to the military branch.
The Navy said the exercise is designed to help members of the UNC, which enforces the 1953 armistice that effectively ended the Korean War, to familiarize themselves with the warfare environment of the Korean Peninsula.
For the drills, the Navy deployed eight vessels, including the ROKS Nampo minelayer, while the US Navy sent the USS Pioneer mine countermeasures ship and two other vessels.
Belgium, Canada, New Zealand and the Philippines sent bomb disposal teams and personnel operating unmanned underwater vehicles.
Participants plan to engage in a series of drills on laying, detecting and removing mines, according to the Navy.
Naval officials from nine other countries, including the United Arab Emirates, will observe the exercise.
Prior to the exercise, the US Naval Forces Korea hosted a three-day mine warfare forum in the southeastern port city of Busan on Monday, attended by officials from 19 countries, to discuss counter-mine operations using maritime combat systems that employ both unmanned assets and personnel. (Yonhap)