South Korean service members salute before departing to join the Rim of the Pacific exercise during a ceremony at a naval base in Changwon, about 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul, in May 2018. (Yonhap)
The Navy plans to participate in a US-led multinational maritime exercise slated to kick off near Hawaii in August, a military source said, despite concerns over the new coronavirus.
The Rim of the Pacific exercise (RIMPAC), designed to enhance combined operational capabilities for maritime security, is set to be held from Aug. 17 to 31, the US Pacific Fleet said Thursday.
"The Navy plans to participate in the RIMPAC exercises this year ... the number of servicemen and vessels dispatched to the exercises will be decided later depending on the COVID-19 situation," the South Korean military source said.
The Navy has participated in the biennial event on a regular basis, dispatching warships including the Aegis-equipped Sejong the Great destroyer and other military assets.
The US Navy said it will minimize land and shore-based training and exclude social events on shore for this year's exercise due to concerns over the COVID-19.
"In these challenging times, it is more important than ever that our maritime forces work together to protect vital shipping lanes and ensure freedom of navigation through international waters," said US Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. John Aquilino. "And we will operate safely, using prudent mitigation measures." (Yonhap)