By Rear Adm. Rick Williams
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific
The Mid-Pacific (MIDPAC) guided-missile cruiser USS Chosin (CG 65) returns to its homeport of Pearl Harbor today from a six-and-a-half month deployment to the western Pacific. At nearly the same time this morning, we will welcome Republic of Korea Navy ships ROK Dae Jo Yeong and ROK Hwacheon, Commander, Cruise Training Task Group.
Chosin is named for the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War. The battle, fought by courageous Marines, mostly the U.S. 1st Marine Division, and other U.S. service members and allies, was some of the fiercest fighting in modern warfare. And it was fought during one of the coldest winters in recorded history on the Korean Peninsula in late November and early December in 1950.
Looking back more than 60 years later, we know the Korean War preserved freedom and democracy for South Korea and provided a better way of life for millions of people over many generations. The U.S. Navy had a critical role in supporting Marines and UN Allies throughout the war.
Naval forces provided the key strategic advantage. Our surface ships, submarines and aircraft provided sea control, effectively blockading North Korea’s coastlines and denying enemy shipments while ensuring mobility of sea lanes for our side. Aircraft from Task Force 77 carriers and escorts provided strikes and support. Cruisers, destroyers and other ships put a barrage of fire between our troops and the enemy. Pearl Harbor’s own Mighty Mo, battleship USS Missouri (BB 63), added the weight of her 16-inch guns to the fight.
We demonstrated and reinforced fundamental naval principles in the Korean War, sea control, power projection, countermine warfare, controlled evacuation and interoperability. That legacy lives on in our maritime strategy today, which our ships and Sailors continue to carry out.
We should remember this week, and every other week for that matter, the challenges associated with these deployments. The sacrifice and time away from home can be stressful for Sailors and their families. Work-ups are particularly challenging as our crews train for a myriad of contingencies, from humanitarian assistance and search-and-rescue to the full spectrum of combat.
So let’s think about the significance of USS Chosin’s return to Pearl Harbor coinciding with our ROK partners’ visit today.
USS Chosin’s deployment included a visit to Busan, Republic of Korea in July, where the U.S. Navy and ROK team participated in bilateral Aegis interoperability training. Chosin operated with other units in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operation during high-tempo operations in the South and East China Seas. Visits to the Philippines, Singapore and Australia also provided an opportunity to continue building partnerships and conducting integrated operations with our allies and partners.
Deployments like Chosin’s to the western Pacific matter, as history taught us in naval battles in Korea. Partnership-building matters. Today, we continue to see the impact of our efforts 60 years ago as we meet our ROK partners on the pier in Pearl Harbor.
The brave veterans of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir take a special pride in their namesake on our waterfront: USS Chosin. As we welcome back Chosin from deployment and greet the ROK Navy today, we expect to have members of the “Chosin Few” pierside, veterans who fought fearlessly at the “Frozen Chosin.” These warriors can also be proud of their commitment to warfighting readiness in the Korean War. Those who fought for survival while operating forward earned a legacy of stability, freedom and prosperity for us and our allies and friends.
USS Chosin and our other ships homeported here in Hawaii that operate forward are protecting that legacy today and for generations to come.