The Republic of Korea's warship Choi Young is set to join the European Union (EU) Naval Force's (NAVFOR) counter-piracy mission Operation Atalanta, which will take place off the coast of Somalia in March.

Choi Young will operate in the Gulf of Aden in collaboration with EU NAVFOR warships, in order to prevent acts of piracy, such as the kind that plagued the waters off the East African coast only a few years ago.

The 4,400t vessel can accommodate 300 crew members, along with Lynx helicopters and an on board special operations team.

Choi Young's command team will co-ordinate the daily counter-piracy operations with the staff from EU NAVFOR on board Operation Atalanta’s flagship ESPS Galicia, which is a Spanish Navy Galicia-class landing platform dock.

The participation is part of the EU-Republic of Korea framework agreement that has been in force since December 2016.

The deal has been signed after a series of successful meetings and exercises conducted between EU NAVFOR and the Korean warships in the Gulf of Aden over the last few years.

"Choi Young will operate in the Gulf of Aden in collaboration with EU NAVFOR warships in order to prevent acts of piracy."

South Korea has also contributed warships to the Bahrain-based Combined Maritime Forces in the Middle East.

EU NAVFOR's Operation Atalanta was launched by the EU in December 2008 after a significant rise in armed pirate attacks.

The major objective of the operation is to protect World Food Programme ships, which carry humanitarian aid to Somali ports, as well as to prevent and repress pirate attacks.

EU NAVFOR vessels are also used to monitor fishing activities off the Somali coast, in addition to supporting the EU sister missions that help boost maritime security and capacities in the Horn of Africa region.

Image: Republic of Korea’s Choi Young warship. Photo: courtesy of EU NAVFOR Somalia.