Chinhae (Jinhae) Naval Base
Chinhae (Jinhae), standing at the head of the promontory separating Haengam Man and Jinhae Hang, is the site of the Republic of Korea’s principal naval base. The Port of Chinhae is located in Chinhae Harbor on the southeast coast of the Republic of Korea at 35°08'N 128°38'E . The Port is approximately 22 nmi west of the much larger and busier Port of Pusan. The port is restricted to entry by naval vessels only. The Port of Chinhae is the site of the United States Navy command of Commander Fleet Activities (COMFLEACTS). The Republic of Korea Navy strictly controls access to the Port and facilities. USN and ROKN surface ships and submarines use specific piers within the Port. There is no commercial usage within the Port. Vessels with drafts of up to 7.9m can be accommodated. Jinhae Hang (35°08'N., 128°39'E.) is entered between Daeyul Do and Somo Do, 2.5 miles NW. This is a prohibited area. A channel leading to Jinhae Hang, passing W of Bu Do, has been swept to a depth of 9.4m.
The Harbor has several piers and quays that are used by the ROK Navy. The ROK Navy is also the coordinating authority for pier usage at the Port. When U. S. Navy surface vessels visit the Port and do not anchor, they are usually assigned to berth at Pier #11. U.S. Naval vessels always tie up bow out. DDG's primarily use Berths #1 or #2 and MCM's primarily use Berths #3 or #4. Submarines only moor to Berth #22 or Berth #23 on the Somo Do Piers. Only one vessel of any type can be accommodated at Somo Do at any one time because nesting is not permitted. The Harbor has dry docks which are not used by U.S. Navy or MSC ships.
Piers at Chinhae are in good repair. Non-floodable Yokohama fenders are available for use by U. S. Navy ships at Pier #11 and vertical rubber fenders are available for use by submarines at the Somo Do piers. The deck height for Pier #11 is 8.2 ft (2.5 m) and the alongside depth was reported to be approximately 39 ft (12 m). There were a total of 25 regular Yokohama fenders for ships and four deep-draft fenders for submarines available in Chinhae and Pusan and for transport to other Korean ports as required.
MSC ships normally use the New Ammo Pier located at Taeil-Mal just within the Haeng Man Harbor (35°06.5'N 128°41.3'E). The New Ammo Pier has two berthing spaces. However, the Old Ammo Pier is occasionally used but only has one berthing space. The New Ammo Pier has solid rubber fenders and is in superb condition. The deck height for both piers is 8.2 ft (2.5 m) and the alongside depth is approximately 39 ft (12 m). The Republic of Korea Army controls access to the Ammo Piers. All ammo operations stop at the Ammo Piers in the case of lightening or thunder.
Chinhae Harbor is well protected by hills in all directions except southeast (Nestor, 1977). The rugged topography of the Korean Peninsula, with elevations commonly exceeding 1,640 ft (500 m), reduces any wind flow from southwest clockwise through east. The relatively large island of Koje Do (Goeje Do), located approximately 8 nmi south of the Inner Harbor, provides limited protection from wind and good protection from waves from the south. Koje Do has elevations commonly exceeding 820 ft (250 m) and individual peaks exceeding 1,640 ft (500 m).
The mountainous terrain of southern Korea and the islands adjacent to Chinhae are considered to provide excellent protection to the Port except for severe tropical cyclone situations. A previous evaluation of Chinhae as a typhoon haven related what was described as "the only blemish on Chinhae Harbor's record as a typhoon haven". It occurred during the passage of Typhoon Sarah, which had a CPA 10 nmi south of Chinhae, with maximum center winds (at CPA) of 98 kt. The storm crossed the Korean coast between Chinhae and Pusan in 1959. The mountains surrounding Chinhae were effective in reducing the winds substantially (55 kt winds were reportedly observed from the northeast), but even so, several ROK Navy vessels were damaged when they ran aground. It should also be noted that some vessels ran aground because they were, reportedly, improperly anchored. However, another more devastating blemish occurred on September 2003 as Typhoon Maemi had a CPA 29 nmi west of Chinhae with a maximum wind at CPA of 93 kt. Many ships were sunk or dragged anchor in Chinhae Man (Chinhae Bay).
Chinhae Bay is known all over Korea for having haven qualities and because of this is saturated with ships (first come, first serve) when a typhoon threatens. Note that there were over 200 vessels at anchor in Chinhae Bay when Typhoon Maemi impacted the Port. Typhoon Maemi on September 2003 caused extensive damage in the Port and within Chinhae Bay with estimated sustained winds of at least 80 kt. Many ships were sunk or dragged anchor. Previously, in 1959 Typhoon Sarah with 55 kt winds observed in the Bay caused several Republic of Korea Navy vessels to run aground. All deep-draft ROKN ships will sortie from both Pusan and Chinhae in the event of an approaching typhoon. Prior to Typhoon Maemi, ROKN deep-draft vessels did in fact sortie to Inchon.