SEOUL - South Korea sent a naval destroyer to the Suez Canal to ensure the safety of its nationals using the waterway, as operations to rescue a stranded giant vessel are under way, the defense ministry said Monday.
Last week, the 200,000-ton container vessel got stuck sideways in the canal in northeastern Egypt, blocking off the crucial international waterway. On Monday, it was partly refloated after rescue work, according to foreign media outlets.
"The defense ministry moved the Cheonghae Unit earlier in the day to the Gulf of Aden for missions to protect Korean vessels which detoured from the Suez Canal to the Cape of Good Hope (in South Africa)," the ministry said in a release.
South Korea has stationed the 300-strong antipiracy unit of Cheonghae in waters off Somalia since 2009. From last year, the contingent temporarily expanded its mission areas from the Gulf of Aden to include the Strait of Hormuz upon the request by the U.S. to help protect the strategic waterway.