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S. Korean patrol vessel to be transferred to Ecuador

April 25, 2024 - 15:19 By Lee Jung-joo
This picture shows South Korea's KCG3001, a 3,000-ton patrol vessel that will be transferred to Ecuador following a memorandum of understanding signed Thursday. The KCG3001 was decommissioned on March 11 after safeguarding South Korean waters for 30 years. (Korea Coast Guard)

The Korea Coast Guard announced that it will transfer a 3,000-ton patrol vessel to Ecuador after signing a memorandum of understanding with its defense minister on Thursday.

According to the Coast Guard, Ecuadorian Defense Minister Giancarlo Loffredo signed the memorandum with the KCG to transfer the decommissioned patrol vessel -- the KCG3001 -- and visited the vessel mounted in Mokpo, South Jeolla Province, to review the handover process.

The KCG3001 was the first 3,000-ton patrol vessel used by the Korea Coast Guard and was the largest ship of the fleet at the time of its deployment in 1994, measuring 105 meters in length, 15 meters in width and 38 meters in depth. The vessel was decommissioned on March 11, after safeguarding South Korean waters for 30 years.

The KCG3001 is the largest patrol vessel that the Korean government has handed over to another country.

According to Ecuador’s Ministry of National Defense, the vessel will be maintained and repaired at a shipyard in Korea for six months while its operators undergo operational training. After six months, the operators will sail the vessel back to Ecuador waters. The Ecuadorian Defense Ministry added that it will use the vessel as a naval flagship to safeguard maritime sovereignty, cracking down on drugs and other maritime crimes and restraining illegal fishing.

“Once deployed to the Ecuadorian Navy, the KCG3001 will make a significant contribution to the defense, security and safety of our waters,” Loffredo said.

The Korea Coast Guard Commissioner-General Kim Jong-uk (left) signs a memorandum of understanding with the Ecuadorian Ministry of National Defense’s Defense Minister Giancarlo Loffredo on Thursday. (Korea Coast Guard)

Meanwhile, this isn’t the Coast Guard’s first time transferring a patrol vessel to Ecuador, as two 300-ton patrol vessels were also transferred to the Ecuadorian Defense Ministry in November 2020. Renamed LG-35 Isla Floreana and LG-36 Isla Darwin, the two vessels are currently in operation protecting Ecuadorian waters.

The Coast Guard believes that the free transfer of vessels will strengthen cooperation between the two countries and greatly benefit maritime security overall.

“The KCG3001 holds symbolic significance (to Korea) as it was one of the first 3,000-ton ships commissioned to the KCG and is also one of the largest decommissioned vessels that our government has transferred overseas,” said Korea Coast Guard Commissioner General Kim Jong-uk.

“As part of the Ecuadorian Navy, we hope that it will serve to not only protect the country’s maritime security and safety, but also to protect the marine environment that surrounds the Galapagos, a World Natural Heritage Site.”