LOUD cheers erupted as two warships from South Korea docked at Portsmouth Naval Base yesterday.
Scores of the area’s Korean population waved flags and clapped as the two ships arrived.
The vessels, destroyer Kang Gam Chan and logistics ship Dae Cheong, will spend three days at the city’s naval base as part of a round-the-world deployment for hundreds of navy cadets.
Among guests from the Korean Embassy in London to welcome the ships was acting Ambassador Kim Chang-mo.
He said the UK and Republic of Korea had a ‘long history of friendship and co-operation’ and hoped this latest visit would strengthen that bond.
He added: ‘The Korean people are particularly thankful for the role the UK had in the defence of our nation during the Korean War.
‘This sacrifice helped to build the Korea we know today and the current partnership between our militaries serves to build on this.’
The Kang Gam Chan fired a 21-gun salute as she arrived in the city, with Gosport’s Fort Blockhouse firing back a similar response.
Some of the 633 Korean sailors will visit HMS Collingwood in Fareham to see how their UK counterparts are trained in weapon engineering.
Others will travel to HMS Excellent in Portsmouth to get an update on the progress of the UK’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Portsmouth Naval Base commander Commodore Jeremy Rigby said he hoped the Koreans enjoyed their visit.
He added: ‘As with our ship visits abroad, these events are not only of great diplomatic significance, but also very useful militarily given that we share similar global challenges including counter-piracy, preventing conflict, protecting our citizens overseas and supporting UN peacekeeping efforts.’
Last night the ships hosted a number of UK Korean War veterans, including Southsea man George Batchelor, 83.
The Koreans are expected to stay in the city until Friday.