South Korea on Wednesday offered its decommissioned 1,200-ton corvette to Colombia in a move to enhance bilateral military relations and cooperation in the defence industry, Navy officials said.
Decommissioned in 2011 after some 28 years of service, the corvette Anyang was offered to Colombia's Navy during a handover ceremony at a naval base in Jinhae, South Gyeongsang Province. The corvette was renamed Narino, the surname of Colombian independence hero Antonio Narino.
It was the first time for Korea to offer a warship to a foreign country.
Colombia was the only South American state that sent troops to the peninsula to fight under the UN banner during the 1950-53 Korean War.
The handover ceremony was attended by scores of government officials and other dignitaries including Saenuri Party lawmaker and former South Korean Chief of Naval Operations Kim Sung-chan, Colombian Ambassador to South Korea Tito Saul Pinilla and Naval Commander Vice Admiral Rodolfo Amaya.
"South Korea will continue to offer follow-up support to the operations of the warship. In the future, we will also consider offering decommissioned vessels to friendly countries to help boost cooperation in the defence industry, enhance national prestige and create national interests," the Navy said in a press release.
Three South Korean naval officials boarded the corvette Narino to offer navigation support for its arrival in the South American state.
The warship is expected to arrive in Colombia in late September after stopping in the US and Mexico. Narino will take on coastal defence missions.
The defence ministries of the two countries signed an agreement over the handover of the warship last July.
Prior to delivery, the ship had undergone an overhaul and physical examinations for some nine months from last October to this month.
Colombia has already inked a deal with South Korea to purchase two coast defence ships and an unspecified number of guided bombs, which Seoul officials believe will boost bilateral defence cooperation.