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(LEAD) Navy's anti-piracy Cheonghae unit gets prime minister's award

All News 15:00 December 14, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Dec. 14 (Yonhap) -- The Navy's anti-piracy Cheonghae unit received a prime minister's honor at an annual award ceremony Friday for its contribution to protecting South Korean vessels and citizens in waters off the coast of Somalia.

The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries and a local daily, The Naeil News, hosted the Jang Bogo Awards ceremony to recognize those that helped enhance the country's maritime sector. Jang is the legendary admiral of the ancient Korean kingdom of Silla (57 B.C.- 935 A.D.).

The naval unit, with more than 300 personnel, has been operating in the Gulf of Aden since 2009 to ensure the safety of South Korean and foreign vessels in waters off the conflict-laden African country.

"The award is the result of the unit's consistent efforts to protect the safety and properties of our citizens in the Gulf of Aden," a senior Navy official was quoted as saying in a press release. "The Navy will continue to keep a posture to fully fulfill its mission and be present in a place where our citizens need us."

The Navy said that the unit will donate its prize money of 10 million won (US$8,847) to a foundation dedicated to supporting children of deceased Navy members.

As of August, the unit had escorted 500 South Korean vessels and provided indirect communications support and other assistance to some 18,000 vessels, including 3,000 foreign ships, the Navy said.

The unit came into the spotlight after its intrepid mission in 2011 to rescue South Korea's 11,500-ton Samho Jewelry freighter and its 21 crew members from Somali pirates.

Kim Young-choon (L), the minister of oceans and fisheries, and Navy Capt. Choi Young-chan pose for a photo at the Jang Bogo Awards ceremony in Seoul on Dec. 14, 2018, in this photo provided by the Navy. The Navy's anti-piracy Cheonghae unit received a prime minister's honor at the ceremony. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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