ROKS Won San gives Australians a taste of Korea in New Zealand

Published on POIS Paul Berry (author and photographer), CPO Nam (ROKN) (photographer)

Location(s): Whangaparaoa, NZ

Topic(s): HMAS Diamantina (M86), Australian Clearance Diving Team ONE, Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS), Mine Countermeasures and Diving Exercise (MCM DIVEX)

HMAS Gascoyne (left) conducts manoeuvres with Republic of Korea Ship (ROKS) Won San during the Mine Countermeasures and Diving Exercise 2014 in New Zealand. (photo: POIS Paul Berry)
HMAS Gascoyne (left) conducts manoeuvres with Republic of Korea Ship (ROKS) Won San during the Mine Countermeasures and Diving Exercise 2014 in New Zealand.

Republic of Korea Ship (ROKS) Won San has rolled out the red carpet for Royal Australian Navy sailors during the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS) Mine Counter Measures and Diving Exercise 2014 (MCMEX 14) in New Zealand.

Members of the Australian MCM Diving Detachment, drawn from HMAS Diamantina and Clearance Diving Team ONE, and a Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) team, spent a night onboard minelayer Won San during the final week of the exercise.

The teams were on mission to recover a body lost at sea - a realistic scenario in the exercise's fictitious earthquake and tsunami ravaged Barclay Islands.

An Australian Clearance Dive Team prepares to dive during the Mine Countermeasures and Diving Exercise 2014.The team were embarked in Republic of Korea Ship (ROKS) Won San for a mission during the exercise.

An Australian Clearance Dive Team prepares to dive during the Mine Countermeasures and Diving Exercise 2014.The team were embarked in Republic of Korea Ship (ROKS) Won San for a mission during the exercise.

The sailors were given a reception normally reserved for conquering heroes, with delicious traditional Korean food laid out and plenty of new friends made.

Leading Seaman (LS) Medic (Underwater) Ben Catterall said the overnight stay was one of his highlights for the exercise.

“Their generosity was amazing and they treated us like royalty,” said LS Catterall.

“I loved their food, it was absolutely fantastic. I'd happily go back to their ship anytime,” he said.

In between the hospitality and cultural exchanges, the RNZN AUV team succeeded in discovering the body, before the Australian Divers jumped in to investigate.

Earlier in the exercise, HMAS Gascoyne rafted up to Won San for an afternoon of sport and cultural exchange.

Gascoyne's crew whipped up a barbeque meal and sampled some traditional Korean food before they tried their hand at Jokgoo, a Korean game that mixes soccer, volleyball and tennis.

HMAS Gascoyne's crew sample some traditional Korean food onboard Replublic of Korea Ship (ROKS) Won San during the Mine Counter Measures and Diving Exercise 2014 in New Zealand.

HMAS Gascoyne's crew sample some traditional Korean food onboard Replublic of Korea Ship (ROKS) Won San during the Mine Counter Measures and Diving Exercise 2014 in New Zealand.

Won San sailor, Seaman (SMN) Heeseok Jo, said the crew were excited to have RAN sailors visit their ship.

“Gascoyne brought over barbeque steak and it was very delicious. We smelled it cooking and the crew were very excited to try it ,” SMN Jo said.

“I feel like this exercise has really built bridges between nations, made connections and good relationships,” he said.

“I wish we had some more days with them.”

The three week MCMEX 14 involves over 600 participants from 14 nations, as well as five Naval Vessels from New Zealand, Australia and Korea.

Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20140523.