Chinhae Navy Base
The Port of Chinhae is located in Chinhae Harbor on the southeast coast of the Republic of Korea. The port city has a population 130,000, located in the province of Kyong Sang Nam Do on the southeast coast of Korea. The Port is approximately 22 nautical miles west of the much larger and busier port of Pusan. In addition to being the site of the United States Navy command of Commander Fleet Activities (COMFLEACT), Chinhae was also the principal Naval Base of the Republic of Korea (ROK) fleet.
Fleet Activities, Chinhae comprising approximately 84 acres, was adjacent to the Republic of Korea Naval Base, Chinhae, Korea. Detachments for Commander US Naval Forces Korea (CNFK) and Naval Communications (NAVCOMM) were located on the adjacent ROK Base approximately 1 kilometer away.
The city of Chinhae was essentially residential with a growing downtown area. The city was primarily supported by the Korean Naval personnel and their families or people working for the ROK Navy shipyard and base facilities. There was a large chemical fertilizer plant, and a petrochemical plastics plant at the far end of the city. Chinhae was 2 hours from Seoul via air/ground transportation, and 6 hours by train. It occupied one of the most attractive areas in South Korea. The city fronts on a sheltered, island-studded bay, and was almost completely surrounded by mountains covered with pine trees. The city was especially noted for its beautiful cherry trees, which when blossoming in the spring, brings tourists from all over the peninsula for a festival.
The landscape of the Republic of Korea, or South Korea, varies from the rugged Taebaek Mountains running the length of the eastern coast to the gentle slopes and plains of the west and south. Located on the southeast tip of the Korean peninsula, Fleet Activities Chinhae was only a short distance from the bustling marketplaces which make up the islands urban center of Pusan and minutes away from the beaches of the Southern Coast. In fact, by American standards anywhere in South Korea is a short distance away. Seoul, the nations capital, is only 7 hours by car.
Korea's second largest island, Kojedo, lies just south of Chinhae and is an hour-and-a-half ferry ride away. Once a POW camp during the Korean War, the island subsequently became home to a thriving fishing and shipbuilding industry, along with first-class beaches and resorts.
Co-located with the largest Korean Navy base, Fleet Activities Chinhae was the only US Navy installation in the country. Outside the gates, the city of Chinhae was growing rapidly as more than 130,000 residents worked to support the Korean Navy shipyard and growing industrial enterprises. The base and the city overlooked a bay dotted with islands and surrounded by pine-studded mountains.
The harbor was entered from the southeast through Gadeog Channel. The channel varied in width from 2,600 yards at its seaward entrance to 1,000 yards where it split just north of Koje Do (Island). The channel was reported to be difficult to navigate in strong winds due to shoal water between Pu Do and Kureisser Cho (Rock). Because of the shoal water, large ships (28 foot draft or greater) entered the harbor through a relatively narrow passage between Kureisser Cho and a promontory just to the west-northwest. When using this passage, there was a danger of being forced onto the rocks of the promontory during periods of strong northerly flow. Therefore, local port authorities recommended that large vessels not try to enter the port during strong northerly winds.
The harbor had several piers and quays that were used by the ROK Navy. The ROK Navy was also the coordinating authority for pier usage at the port. When US Navy surface vessels visited the port and did not anchor, they were usually assigned to berth at Pier 9. Only the south 700 feet of Pier 9 was considered usable by local US Navy authorities because of suspected shoal water (depths less than 13 ft (4 m)) about 800 feet from the south end of the pier. Submarines moored to the pier on Somo Do. Some surface ships had also moored at Somo Do, and noted greater alongside depths than Pier 9. Only one vessel of any type could be accommodated at Somo Do at any one time because nesting was not permitted.
Several anchorages were available in the harbor. The designated nuclear anchorage for US Navy ships was bisected by the long, east-west breakwater that was constructed just south of the new ROK submarine base. The anchorage had portions north and south of the breakwater. By OPNAV instruction, the designated anchorage was the only anchorage nuclear ships could use. Due to the restricted size of the southern segment, nuclear ships were limited to using the northern section. However, a potentially hazardous situation existed for ships using the northern section in northerly wind situations. If anchor dragging occurred, the ship would be forced toward the breakwater. Consequently, local port authorities recommended that ships not use the anchorage if a tropical cyclone was forecasted to pass east of the port and bring northerly winds to the port area.
The bottom of the northern portion was mud with good holding in water depths of 29.5 to 36 feet (9 to 11 meters). The bottom type and holding quality of the southern section was unspecified, but water depths range from 38 to 41 feet (11.5 to 12.5 meters).
Several mooring buoys were located in the anchorages. The largest buoys in the northern part were secured to 10-ton concrete blocks as well as having an anchor line attached to a navy anchor. The smaller buoys had 6-ton blocks, also with an anchor line. Local personnel stated that the safest buoys for small ships to use were buoys 5 and 8. According to local personnel the buoys were moved during the ROK Submarine Base construction, which started in 1993. Consequently, buoy positions marked on harbor charts were thought to not necessarily be accurate.
A large anchorage was located in the southern portion of Chinhae Harbor. A total of 18 anchorage positions, designated Y-1 through Y-18, were identified. Large US Navy vessels were usually assigned to positions Y-1 or Y-2. A second large anchorage was located in the southeast part of Chinhae Harbor, and was normally used by ROK Navy vessels. A total of 20 anchorage positions, designated Z-2 through Z-21, were identified. Tidal range was normally about 6 feet, with a 7 foot extreme tide occasionally observed. Currents in the harbor were minimal.
Piers at Chinhae were in good repair. A total of 7 non-floodable Yokohama fenders were available for use by US Navy ships: 4 with diameters of 4.9 feet (1.5 meters) and 3 with diameters of 8.2 feet (2.5 meters). In addition, 2 vertical, rubber fenders were available for use by submarines at the Somo Do pier. Each was 25 feet (7.6 meters) long, with 8 feet (2.4 meters) extending above the water surface. The harbor had two dry docks, neither of which was used by US Navy ships. In addition, one 50-ton and 2 30-ton floating cranes, as well as 15- and 20-ton mobile cranes were available for service to visiting ships. Tug boats were available, but operate out of Masan. Advance notice of requirements at Chinhae was necessary because it was a 40-minute run from Masan to Chinhae. Pilotage was mandatory in Chinhae Harbor.
Commander, Fleet Activity Chinhae's (CFAC) Mission is to maintain and operate facilities and provide services and materials to support Sailors, Marines, Families and Ships of the Fleet during peacetime, exercises and contingency operations. The mission includes the responsibility to serve as an effective instrument of United States foreign policy. The primary mission of COMFLEACT Chinhae previously was to maintain and operate facilities, to provide services and materials in support of tenant shore activities and units of the Operating Forces of the US Navy, and to perform such other functions or tasks as maybe directed by higher authority. The mission included the responsibility to serve as an effective instrument of US foreign policy, by initiating and continuing action programs which promote positive relations between the command and foreign nationals, and assisting individual Naval personnel and their family members to work effectively, live with dignity and satisfaction, and function as positive representatives of the Navy and of the United States while overseas.
Fleet Activities, Chinhae had its origin as a US Naval Advisory Group in 1946. The Command was subsequently established as a detachment of the Naval Component of the US Naval Advisory Group for the Republic of Korea. Upon reorganization in July 1969, the Command became the first Fleet Detachment, Naval Station, Joint US Military Advisory Group Korea (JUSMAG-K).
In 1972, the Command was reorganized as the Chinhae Facility. US Naval Forces Korea and Fleet Detachment, Naval Section, JUSMAG-K broke out to become a tenant activity. The activity, renamed in 1972 as Field Logistics Center, Chinhae, was disestablished in 1988. The Chinhae Facility was reorganized as Commander, US Naval Forces, Korea Detachment, Chinhae in 1978. Reorganization in 1984 established Commander, Fleet Activities Chinhae with Commander, US Naval Forces, Detachment Chinhae as a tenant activity.
Commander, Fleet Activities, Chinhae provided Morale, Welfare and Recreation services to the military through weekend trips to Osan, Pusan, Taegu, and other recreational points of interest. It provided discounts for numerous recreational activities throughout Korea, television and VCR rental, as well as camcorders, camping gear, and bicycles. In addition, there was a base library, chapel, a small commissary and exchange, a gymnasium, and a bowling alley. The base has a Department Of Defense Dependents Schools (DODDS) for the first through sixth grades. Children in grades 7-12 were bussed to US military schools in Pusan. Movies were shown twice weekly at Robinson Center and were free for the entire family. Three clubs on base offered formal and informal dining, and Duffy's Club provided general entertainment including stateside bands, karaoke, and bingo several nights a month. Medical facilities were limited, as there was only a branch clinic. The nearest hospital was the 121st General Hospital in Seoul, 250 miles to the north. The local Korean residents were very friendly and helpful. Base housing was furnished and all the BEQ/BOQ facilities had been renovated.
NAVCOMM Detachment Chinhae, Korea was located in South Korea, 30 miles west of Pusan on the Republic of Korea Navy base and officially established in October 1995. The detachment of approximately 30 personnel was headed at the time by ENS Steve Irvine as Officer in Charge and ETC(SW) Mike Holley as the Assistant Officer in Charge. The mission of the detachment was to provide incoming and outgoing message services to both mobile and ashore units of Commander in Chief Republic of Korea Fleet, Commander Naval Forces Korea, Commander Seventh Fleet, and all US Navy and Marine Corps commands within the Republic of Korea. This included the upkeep and proper operations of all facilities, equipment and circuitry.
NTCC Chinhae is the newest member of Naval Command Telecommunications Station (NAVCOMTELSTA) Far East and was established in 1995. It continued in its long tradition of providing valuable communications support to Commander, US Forces Korea; Commander, US Naval Forces Korea; the Republic of Korea Navy and transiting units. In addition, with the transition to Message Distribution Terminals (MDTs) and GATEGUARD, it brought the Republic of Korea improved state-of-the-art communications support.
As of September 1993, the ROK Navy was constructing a submarine base in Chinhae Harbor. Extensive filling had been completed on the north, east, and south sides of Somo Do. With the filling Somo Do was in reality no longer an island, becoming connected to the mainland. When construction was completed, the new submarine facility was expected to afford excellent protection to moored submarines from winds and seas from southeast clockwise through west. In addition to its protected location, the design of the facility was unique because the builders erected 2 wind fences to protect the submarine piers from strong winds. One, oriented east-west on the western half of the newly constructed breakwater was located just south of the piers. The other was oriented north-northwest to south-southeast near the west end of the piers. It was located across the filled area between Somo Do and what used to be (before filling connected it to Somo Do) the small island of Song Do to the south. Each fence was estimated to be 32-38 feet (10-12 meters) high, and was constructed of steel vertical supports and fixed, horizontal, sturdy, fiberglass panels. The panels were mounted venetian blind-style so that any wind impacting the fences from south through west would be deflected upward before reaching the piers. Although southerly through westerly winds would undoubtedly reach the pier area, the horizontal wind force was expected to be significantly diminished by the deflecting effect of the wind fences.
United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) tested the ROK's capability to transport munitions filled containers to various bases with 2 Turbo CADS (TC) worldwide munitions movement exercises during 2001. Primarily as a result of USTRANSCOM sponsored exercises, some infrastructure improvements to the system had been effected. The most important improvement was the refit of the ROK's Chinhae port facility. Completed in April 1998, this successful modernization effort lowered the pier draft thus enabling large container ships to dock and off-load. The pier was equipped with a state-of-the-art off-load capability complete with a permanent ISO gantry system, a land-based ISO handling portable crane, 4 truck lanes, and 2 railroad lines. These improvements, along with the latest 45 ton overhead handlers allowed the port facility to off-load 15 twenty-foot equivalent units an hour. For example, it subsequently took just over 3 days to download an APF ship carrying 1,103 ISO containers loaded with USAF air- to-ground munitions. This capability, in conjunction with its remote location, made Chinhae the ROK's only sited port capable of rapidly transloading explosive-filled ISOs from a container ship directly to railcars or trucks. Although air transport constituted another option for intermodal transfers from ships docking at the Chinhae port, the closest military runway was two hours away at Taegu AB. Relocating the ISOs to Taegu AB would still involve transfer by rail or truck and therefore air transport was not feasible. This was the primary reason that there are no plans to airlift APF ammunition in ISOs to USAF bases directly from Chinhae.
Under the Land Partnership Plan between the US and the ROK, first agreed to in 2002 and ammended in 2004, Fleet Activities Chinhae would continue to operate, and the US precense at the facility would continue to be the only US Naval Base on the Korean peninsula.
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