(ATTN: ADDS more info in 2nd to last para)
SEOUL, May 24 (Yonhap) -- The Navy plans to send just two destroyers to a U.S.-led multinational maritime exercise slated to kick off near Hawaii in August, a military source said Sunday, as the biannual exercise is expected to be held in a scaled-down manner due to the new coronavirus.
The Navy will send a 7,600-ton Aegis destroyer and a 4,400-ton destroyer to the Rim of the Pacific exercise (RIMPAC) scheduled for Aug. 17-31, according to the source.
In 2018, South Korea sent a submarine, a patrol plane and some 700 troops for the exercise, along with destroyers, but such military assets will not be mobilized this year. The number of troops taking part in the exercise is also expected to be reduced.
The exercise is designed to enhance combined operational capabilities for maritime security. South Korea has participated in the event on a regular basis, dispatching warships, including the Aegis-equipped Sejong the Great destroyer.
This year, the Marine Corps will not send its forces to the exercise as it will be an at-sea-only event.
The U.S. Navy earlier said it will minimize land and shore-based training and exclude social events on shore for this year's exercise due to concerns over COVID-19.
Fresh tensions brewing in Seoul-Tokyo ties over court procedure to sell off Japanese assets
Reform committee's recommendations to diffuse chief prosecutor's power draw backlash
After six months, pandemic accelerates arrival of contactless future in S. Korea
1 year after workplace anti-bullying law took effect, challenges remain
N.K. seeks to distract from domestic hardships with liaison office demolition: experts