Formerly known as "Cruzers in Korea"

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Flashback Friday - Fleet Week in Busan

Saturday, October 8, 2011
Here's a Navy flashback for you.  Right about two years ago to the day, while stationed in Busan, Korea, my command, Military Sealift Command Korea, had the great pleasure of participating in the Republic of Korea Navy International Fleet Review - better known as Fleet Week.  This event is held once every ten years.  It encompassed over 30 different Navies throughout the world and over 50 ships.  It was a lot of fun but also a very busy week.

This international event commemorated the 60th founding anniversary of Korea's armed forces.  Thousands of people, including domestic and foreign dignitaries attended the event to witness the massive gathering of navy ships and aircraft from around the world.

The ships were lined up for as far as you could see.  A fleet review is a naval event in which the head of state reviews the country's fleet as a show of strength or before a major engagement.  This British naval tradition dates back more than 600 years.

The beautiful city of Busan in the background.

Lieutenant Colonel Kim and Colonel Lee are in the middle from the ROK Army Port Operations Group.  Colonel Lee is the Commander of the ROKPOG.  On the right is my partner in crime, LTC Tripp Blanton, 837th Transportation Battalion Commander.  The incredible work relationships and personal friendships forged between our three units is something I'll always look back on with fondness.  It was only through these strong bonds that we were able to accomplish some good things on the Korean peninsula.  These guys were simply awesome.

This is aboard the Australian ship, HMAS Toowoomba during a Fleet Week reception.  Tough duty, but someone had to do it.

Of course you have to eat kangaroo while aboard an Australian ship.  Ate some emu too.

Another difference between US ships and Aussie ships - they have a bar!  The crew was kind enough to host an "after hours" event in their wardroom.

The premiere US ship participating in Fleet Week was one of my old ships, the aircraft carrier, USS GEORGE WASHINGTON.  My longtime friend, VMI classmate and squadron-mate, Steve "Whip" Blasch was serving as the Mini-Boss aboard the GW.  It was great catching up and tossing back a beer with one of my closest friends.  The Navy is always good for adventures and mini-reunions.

MSCO Korea hosted a Fleet Week Social in my building.  With so many stuffy events happening throughout the week, I think this informal event was a nice change.  The party was well attended by folks from various ships.  There were officers from the US, Korea, Australia, Canada, Great Britain and others.  And yes, with a crowd of about 150 foreigners, we managed to disturb the peace and ended up getting kicked out.  Of course we had a back up plan - Gwangalli Beach.  Somehow, I managed to catch my shoe on fire at the party.

Some of the crew from the Busan Foreign School.  They definitely enhanced the international flavor of the event.

So this whole week reminded me of one of my favorite things about the US Navy - the opportunity to meet new friends, whether they live next door or halfway around the world.  That's good stuff there.  I also got the bonus reminder that shoes are flammable.  Have a great Columbus Day weekend.


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