MOKPO, March 14 (Yonhap) – The U.S. Navy cruiser Mobile Bay, which arrived in the southwestern port city of Mokpo over the weekend to take part in a combined exercise, opened to the public on Monday.
The 9,957-ton Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruiser, which has a cruising speed of 30 knots per hour, was named after the naval battle of Mobile Bay during the American Civil War in 1864. It was commissioned in 1987 during a ceremony at the Alabama State Docks in Mobile, Alabama.
The cruiser was opened to the general public briefly after the South Korean Navy’s 3rd Fleet held a welcoming ceremony on Sunday.
Around 100 South Korean soldiers, university students as well as citizens of Mokpo attended the 15-minute opening event in which they were given a chance to see loaded weapons and facilities under the guidance of American navy officers.
Some 358 crew members of the Mobile Bay also had a chance to see some of the Korean cultural relics in this southern port city.
For two days from Tuesday, the American crews will engage in friendship sports and voluntary service activities with South Korean soldiers until they depart on Friday to take part in the combined Foal Eagle exercises.
The maritime South Korea-U.S. drills will be held in the southern waters off the Korean Peninsula for four days starting next Monday with the South Korean Navy’s 3rd Fleet.
The Mobile Bay came to South Korea along with the U.S. nuclear-powered supercarrier the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74), which arrived in Busan also on Sunday, to join the March 7-18 Key Resolve military exercise between South Korea and the United States.
The 103,000-ton aircraft carrier is the flagship of the combat group.
Three other guided-missile destroyers — the USS Stockdale, USS Chung-Hoon and USS William P. Lawrence — will join the Busan port visit, along with the USS Mobile Bay.
Meanwhile, a group of civic activities held a protest rally during the opening event of the cruiser and urged South Korea and the United States to halt the war exercises.’