The Australian navy frigate HMAS Toowoomba steams through the Pacific Ocean ahead of live-fire training in July 2018.

The Australian navy frigate HMAS Toowoomba steams through the Pacific Ocean ahead of live-fire training in July 2018. (Devin Langer/U.S. Navy)

CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — South Korean and Australian warships began four days of drills off the Korean Peninsula’s southeastern coast Tuesday, a day after the nations’ air forces started a separate exercise overhead.

Six South Korean ships, including the destroyer ROKS Kang Gam Chan and Australia’s long-range frigate HMAS Toowoomba, began the Haedoli-Wallaby exercise off Ulsan, roughly 190 miles south of Seoul, according to a news release Thursday from South Korean navy.

Haedoli is the name of the South Korean navy’s dolphin mascot and an expression that translates to “sea friend”; a wallaby is a small marsupial found in Australia.

The exercise included P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft from South Korea and MH-60R Seahawk helicopters and P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft from Australia, according to the release.

Haedoli-Wallaby aims to improve each navy’s ability to use the other’s training and equipment in antisubmarine and anti-aircraft warfare, and in stopping and boarding vessels at sea, the release said.

This is the ninth time the training has been held since its establishment in 2012.

South Korean navy Capt. Park Ilsoo described the exercise as “an opportunity to foster friendships between the two countries and strengthen capabilities to conduct joint operations.”

“The Australian military is a valued comrade-in-arms that fought together with our troops in the Korean War, shedding blood, for [South Korea],” he said in the release.

Australia, a member state of the U.N. Command headquartered at Camp Humphreys, came to South Korea’s defense during the 1950-53 war. Around 340 Australian troops out of the over 17,000 who served in the war were killed, according to the command’s website.

Meanwhile, more than 130 aircraft from the U.S., South Korean and Australian air forces began five days of drills Monday for Vigilant Defense, an annual airpower exercise around South Korea.

Australian air force, which participated in Vigilant Defense for the first time in 2022, dispatched a KC-30A multirole tanker transport for aerial refueling drills during the exercise.

Stars and Stripes reporter Yoo Kyong Chang contributed to this report.

David Choi is based in South Korea and reports on the U.S. military and foreign policy. He served in the U.S. Army and California Army National Guard. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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