News: Korean midshipmen sail with USS Blue Ridge from Cairns to Busan
BUSAN, South Korea - Just as one group of ship riders departed USS Blue Ridge, another group arrived. This time Blue Ridge host four Korean midshipmen that joined the summer patrol Aug. 2 in Cairns, Australia.
Sangsu Kwon, Min Sakong, Seongkoo Hong, and Gyunan Park's arrival was part of a military exchange program coordinated by Blue Ridge staff and the Republic of Korea Naval Academy. The riders spent 11 days observing and participating in some of the ship's training evolutions and even took part in the crossing the line ceremony.
Training officer Lt. Valerie Greenaway, who worked with the midshipmen, said the visit was a great opportunity to strengthen ties.
“It's been a great effort to increase foreign relations and allow them to experience the daily operations of a U.S. Navy warship,” she said.
With the exception of Park, who traveled to China and Thailand, it was the group's first time outside Korea.
“It's been awesome,” said Park. I've learned about American culture and met so many people.
After watching American sailors and Marines for a few days, the group noticed the differences in the two nations' navies. For Min, the most obvious was the difference in attitude.
“The Americans have a much freer atmosphere, Korean navy ships are much more strict.” said Ming.
While onboard they also focused on how the exchange could enhance their military careers as Korean navy officers.
“I see that there are many good practices that hopefully I can take back and apply to the Korean navy,” said Kwon.
One of the things the midshipmen will be taking back with them is the experience of the crossing the line ceremony. Luckily for them they were onboard at the right place at the right time, and were able to get in on the fun.
“It was a little crazy, but we all liked it. We're lucky because this is something we normally wouldn't do in our Navy,” said Sakong.
For Midshipman Hong, the crossing the line ceremony wasn't the only memory he'll bring back with him to Korea.
“One of the best moments on the ship was being able to swim in the Pacific Ocean during swim call. That will definitely be something I won't forget.”
Before disembarking Blue Ridge, the midshipmen prepared a meal for the wardroom. Ensign Amy Kim who helped prepare the meal, said her and fellow officers thought it was a very kind gesture.
“It was great. It shows how eager they are in sharing a part of their heritage and the pride they have in their culture.”
Blue Ridge serves under Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7/Task Force (CTF) 76, the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force. Blue Ridge is the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.