Discussing the Korean Flag Shipping Program

The Korean Flag Shipping Program is a part of an active relationship between the United States and Republic of Korea. Formalized in 1981, the program enables Military Sealift Command to assume operational control of up to 59 South Korean-flagged, privately-owned cargo ships in the event of an emergency declared by the ROK government on the Korean peninsula. Both nations meet each year to ensure sealift assets are available to meet the potentially rigorous demands of transporting critical combat and combat support equipment to U.S. troops. Alternately hosted in the United States and the Republic of Korea, this year’s Korean Flag Shipping Working Group Conference wrapped up on June 12 at MSC headquarters in Washington, D.C. The following blog post highlights some of this year’s discussions:

Rear Adm. T.K. Shannon speaks with participants at the Korean Flag Shipping  Working Group Conference.

Rear Adm. T.K. Shannon speaks with participants at the Korean Flag Shipping Working Group Conference.

After opening remarks by Rear Adm. T.K. Shannon, commander, MSC, participants received briefings based on outstanding actions from last year’s working group conference.

In 2012, ROK participants requested more details for standard operating procedures concerning the disposition of commercial peacetime cargo still on board a designated KFS ship upon program activation, should such cargo be off-loaded at a port other than the intended discharge port. United States participants reviewed the procedures, and provided examples this year of how the U.S. commercial industry handles “frustrated” cargo. Changes to procedures are slated for discussion next year.

MSC, the Maritime Administration and the ROK Ministry of Oceans and Maritime Affairs also discussed their respective vessel programs and capabilities to support contingency operations.

The working group also tackled the issue of ammunition transported aboard civilian-crewed KFS ships. During last year’s conference, ROK participants requested a copy of U.S. procedures for ammunition transportation, specifically the methods MSC uses to meet Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs, Department of Transportation, DOD and other requirements. Using this information, the ROK government will prepare KFS vessels with the technical ability to handle ammunition loading and movement.

MSC Office Korea briefed the working group on results from the 2012 annual communications test and surveys for ships in the KFS program, reporting 100 percent success for all ships. The ROK Navy provided a summary of the updated ship list for 2013. U.S. participants requested that ROK representatives conduct an analysis to determine if shipping capacity to the program can be increased.

“Korean flag shipping will play a very important role to maintaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula,” said Pete Fejeran, plans analyst, Joint Plans Division, Operations and Plans directorate. “It demonstrates the commitment by the people of the Republic of Korea to the defense of their country. As a force multiplier in concert with U.S. shipping, KFS reinforces and enhances U.S. Transportation Command strategic sealift capability to transport and deliver critical combat equipment and supplies to the warfighter.”

Next year’s conference is tentatively scheduled for the last week of May 2014 in South Korea.

 

 

 

 

 

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