by Ryan Maass
Jinhae, South Korea (UPI) Dec 29, 2016
The South Korean navy officially decommissioned the vessel Pyeongtaek, the last ship transferred to the branch from the United States.
Pyeongtaek, an Edenton-class search-and-rescue ship, was initially in service with the U.S. Navy designated as USS Beafort. South Korea received the vessel as part of the Security Assistance Program on Aug. 29, 1996.
The ship was withdrawn from service during a ceremony military officials say highlighted a close partnership between the U.S. and South Korea.
"Beaufort had a great legacy, but the biggest legacy is not what the ship did in the U.S Navy but the continued service it provided for the ROK and US alliance," U.S. Naval Forces Korea chief Cmdr. Henry Kim said in a press release. "It is the last former U.S. ship in the ROK fleet, so today's decommissioning is important to our ROK partners and us."
Kim went on to explain how the event marked a turning point for South Korea, noting the country's growing military shipbuilding capability.
"This ceremony marks the end of an era," he continued. "This is the last U.S. ship to have served in the ROK Navy. Now each ROK ship is ROK built. That is an obvious source of pride, and as both navies progress and grow stronger, so will our alliance."
Pyeongtaek served the South Korean Navy for 20 years, and participated in various military and civilian operations including the Taean oil spill recovery in 2008. Following its decommission, the vessel will be transferred to Pyeontaek City.
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