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South Korea’s Jeju Island gets first visit from US submarine

By MARCUS FICHTL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 22, 2017

SEOUL, South Korea — The USS Mississippi became the first American submarine to visit South Korea’s touristy Jeju Island with a port visit this week.

Wednesday’s visit is a regularly scheduled stop for the Virginia-class attack submarine as it patrols the Indo-Asia-pacific region, a Navy statement said.

“We are honored to be the first submarine to visit Jeju,” the vessel’s commander, Cmdr. Eric J. Rozek, said in the statement. “We are also honored to have the opportunity to meet with the people of [South Korea], and we believe that healthy relationships between our two nations contribute to peace in the region.”

Known more as a tourism hot spot than a strategic military location, Jeju will offer the sailors a chance to enjoy island recreation while working side by side with their South Korean counterparts. They’ll also spend Thanksgiving on the island.

“The U.S. and [South Korean] navies share a strong partnership that is continually strengthened by routine interactions that enhance and foster our relationship,” Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, Naval Forces Korea commander, said in the statement. “This visit will allow Mississippi crew members the opportunity to enjoy the unique culture of the residents of Jeju-do island.”

Crewed with about 150 sailors, the 360-foot-long Hawaii-based Mississippi is armed with a complement of Tomahawk cruise missiles and torpedoes. Powered with a nuclear reactor, its only constraint during undersea patrols is food and general maintenance.

The submersible arrives at the volcanic island about 60 miles from South Korea's southwestern coast during a period of heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

President Donald Trump announced Monday that the United States is redesignating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism as part of his campaign to further isolate the regime and deprive it of funds.

On Wednesday, United Nations Command released footage showing that the communist state had violated the armistice agreement last week when one of its soldiers briefly crossed the Military Demarcation Line at the Joint Security Area while pursuing a defecting comrade.

fichtl.marcus@stripes.com
Twitter: @marcusfichtl

 

The Virginia-class attack submarine USS Mississippi pulls into the pier at South Korea's Jeju Naval Base as part of a routine port visit, Nov. 22, 2017.
WILLIAM CARLISLE/U.S. NAVY

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