JEDDAH: The Republic of Korea Navy Cruise Training Task Group (CTTG) arrived in Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Islamic Port on Friday, Dec. 1, on its second visit since 2015.
Jeddah is one of 13 ports and 12 cities that ROKS Hansando and combat support ship ROKS Hwacheon will visit during the group’s training, which is designed to familiarize the midshipmen with ships and to develop their skills before they are commissioned as naval officers.
Welcoming the ships and their crews at the port after their voyage from Egypt was South Korea’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Park Joon-Yong, South Korean Consul General Woo Hong-Koo, Commanding Officer Cho Chong Ho, consuls, members of the Korean International School of Jeddah, and South Korean residents of Jeddah.
Crew members Jang Jae-Kyung and Lee Hak-Je explained that the 4th grade of the Republic of Korea Naval Academy, also known as first-class midshipmen, annually go on a training exercise to different parts of the world. This year, they decided to visit Saudi Arabia because of the enduring relationship between the two countries, which dates back to the 1950s and the Korean War.
“Saudi Arabia helped us during the war, and for that we are always thankful,” said Jae-Kyung.
The CTTG is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its cruise training and the graduation of the 78th class of ROK Naval Academy, which consists of around 150 midshipmen.
ROKS Hansando is crewed by around 460 sailors. ROKS Hwacheon is celebrating its seventh circumnavigation as a commemoration of the CTTG’s 70th anniversary.
The training cadre includes a Saudi midshipman on an exchange program, Faisal Mohammed Alkhathami, who was celebrating his temporary trip home with his family. His father and brother attended the welcoming ceremony.
The ships will remain in the Kingdom until Dec. 4. During their stay, the group will hold several events, including an exchange between the Republic of Korea Navy and the Royal Saudi Navy, a visit to the Korean International School of Jeddah, an on-board reception, a ship tour, and a defense industry exhibition.
The crew also revealed that they will be touring Jeddah and expressed their excitement to venture into the city and learn about the history of Saudi Arabia.
Following the CTTG’s visit to the Kingdom, the ships will sail to India before heading to their final port of call in Japan. Once back in South Korea, the CTTG will have sailed for 30,000 miles — 1.5 times the circumference of the Earth.