In August 1945, 13 days after the Japanese surrender which ended World War II, the Marine Affairs Association began its organization. Early events are perhaps best told in the words of the Korean officer who led the movement, retired Vice Admiral Sohn Won Il.
"In September 1945, after the Liberation, about a dozen men of the sea assembled at my home in Heyhwadong, Seoul, to set up the Marine Affairs Association. It was the first meeting setting in motion of what was to develop into the Coast Guard."
"When we recruited 50 members for our association, we had to teach them the national anthem first of all. Largely sailors on foreign commercial ships during the Japanese occupation, they did not know the national song well." On Nov. 11, 1945, the Marine Affairs Association evolved in the Marine Defense Group. This activity was sanctioned by the U.S. military government, which provided limited assistance through U.S. Navy personnel then in Korea. The Group assumed responsibilities for navigation, engineering, and military training units, ultimately establishing the Naval Academy, shipyard and Naval Hospital.
Acting on the advice of the U.S. military government, Mr. Sohn changed the name of the organization to "Korean Coast Guard." Sohn assembled 70 men in Seoul to set up a Coast Guard Academy, and they proceeded to the former Japanese Naval Base at Chinhae, Korea, to establish it there. Eighteen communists in the original group revolted in order to hinder the establishment of the academy, but were unsuccessful. "When the academy was inaugurated despite all the disturbances and the national flag was hoisted high over the academy compound, every one of us, the remaining 52, wept in deep emotion," Sohn recalls. By January 1946, the Korean Coast Guard was formally recognized by the military government, and approximately 1300 personnel had been recruited, including the 52 remaining members of the original group. The new Coast Guard was supervised by several U.S. junior officers and was successively headed by three U.S. officers, two of which were USNR and the third U.S. Army, but a graduate of the Naval Academy.
"The academy students who were admitted in the first year had a real hard time," said Sohn. "Because of financial difficulties, the food was not sufficient and they had to feed on bad rice, dried liver, and meeyok (a kind of edible seaweed) which the Japanese Navy had left behind in the Chinhae depot. They labored more hours to clear the littered quarters than to receive a military education." At this time the Coast Guard possessed no ships or boats, except for a few small ones left by the Japanese.
The U.S. Coast Guard Detachment, Korea, was inaugurated 2 September 1946 when Capt. George E. McCabe, USCG, arrived in Seoul with a small group of U.S. Coast Guard personnel. Capt. McCabe was designated Chief of the Korean Coast Guard by Col. T.E. Price, U.S. Army, the director of the Military Government's Department of Internal Security. Sohn was commissioned a lieutenant commander and was ordered from Chinhae to Seoul as Captain McCabe's Korean counterpart. Lt. Cmdr. Sohn ordered Korean personnel to the headquarters and established departments for handling operations, personnel, communications, and administration. Cmdr. Gordon P. McGowan, USCG, was sent to Chinhae to undertake direction of training.
On arrival to Chinhae, Cmdr. McGowan found two U.S. Army officers in charge of the shipyard, training station, supply depot, and approximately 700 Koreans.
In the beginning of the training program, one thing became immediately apparent: Time did not permit attempting to complete course of instruction for all hands. The class work was directed along lines of evaluating the personnel in order to assign crews to ships, which were due to start arriving almost immediately.
The organization and training of the new service was undertaken under two plans. The first was the emergency training and screening of personnel to meet the immediate need. There was pressure from all sides to do whatever was possible to assist in putting down smuggling of economic necessities out of Korea and the illegal movement of seaborne passenger traffic. The second plan consisted of the establishment of well-organized units, ashore and afloat.
In carrying out the first plan, the Chinhae Detachment took all the officers and petty officers and divided them into two groups, calling one class engineers and the other deck force. These groups were further divided among the instructors for the purposes of actual instruction.
In October 1946, four 300-ton ex-Japanese mine-planting vessels were delivered. Shortly afterward, two U.S. LCI and six 45-foot picket boats were delivered via LSD from the Philippines. By the end of November, four more LCI were delivered and two additional ex-Japanese mine-planters were obtained.
Communications equipment was procured from various sources in December 1946, and a reasonably reliable communications network was established. The Korean turned out to be excellent radio operators and handled messages in English with few difficulties.
The Supply Depot was organized at Chinhae on the arrival of a USCG Supply Officer in January 1947.
In 1948, after the new Republic of Korea government was established, the Coast Guard was formally rename the Republic of Korea Navy. Commodore Sohn was appointed Chief of Naval Operations, and Capt. McCabe became the Navy's U.S. advisor. By this time, bases had been established at Inchon and Mokpo on the west coast, at Chinhae on the south coast, and at Mukhojino the east coast. Chinhae, in addition to being an operating base, was also the training station. On advice of Capt. McCabe, a Service Force was established at Chinhae and operations were transferred to a base at nearby Pusan. In August 1948 a Provisional Military Assistance Advisory Group was organized under the U.S. Army Occupation Forces.
During June 1949, U.S. combat forces were withdrawn from Korea, and on July 1 the Military Advisory Group Korea (KMAG) was established with a mission of advising and assisting the ROK Army.
In the early months of 1950, the ROK Navy carried out a campaign to collect funds for the purchase of a naval craft from the United States. Voluntary contributions were made by naval personnel which, when combined with a large government contribution made possible the procurement of a 250-ton patrol craft.
Less than a year after the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces, North Korea began its invasion of the entire Korean peninsula. U.S. and UN reaction was swift; on July 15 the United Nations Command was established with General MacArthur assigned as Commander-in-Chief, United Nations Command (CINCUNC). The U.S. was designated as executive agent for the UN, and actual control of forces was carried out through Commander-in-Chief, Far East (CINCFE) and Commander Naval Forces Far East (COMNAVFE), based in Japan.
On the night of June 27, 1950, the ROK Navy patrol craft Paektusan was on patrol in the Korea Straits near the undefended deep-water port city of Pusan when she encountered an unidentified craft estimated to be of about 800 tons. The craft was challenged and replied with gunfire. In the ensuing engagement, Paektusan sank the other craft, later determined to have been laden with North Korean troops which were to capture Pusan. The frustration of this invasion from the sea was of crucial importance in ultimately turning the tide in favor of the UN forces.
The present U.S. Naval Advisory Group was established Feb. 9, 1952, with the Chief, U.S. Naval Advisory Group assigned additional duty as Commander, ROK Naval Forces.
Hostilities were suspended when the armistice agreement was signed on July 27, 1953.
In December 1953, semi-annual country-wide command post exercises (CPX's) were inaugurated in order to familiarize personnel with existing plans for the defense of the Republic of Korea and also to test communications and operating procedures of all forces assigned. ROK forces have participated in each CPX since STRIKE BACK in July 1960.
The Joint Military Advisory Group, Korea (Provisional) (PROVMAG-K) was established in January 1955 pursuant to Far East Command General Order No. 2. The original organization provided for a Chief, PROVMAG-K, who was the Deputy Commander EIGHTH U.S. Army (forward), and deputies consisting of Chief, KMAG (Army); Chief, USNAVADGRU; and Chief, U.S. Air Force Advisory Group (AFAG). This organization was to perform the joint functions required in the establishment of a JUSMAG and to develop plans for the organization of a JUSMAG.
PROVMAG-K was redesignated as the Joint Military Assistance Advisory Group (Provisional) (PROVMAAG-K) on May 18, 1955. On Jan. 21, 1956, General Order No. 4 from HQ, Far East Command authorized the designation of a Chief, PROVMAAG-K to be nominated by the Commanding General, EIGHTH U.S. Army and appointed by CINCFE.
As part of far-reaching changes and streamlining of the Pacific command structure ordered by the Department of Defense, on July 1, 1957, the functions of CINCFE were transferred to CINCPAC, HQ FEC was inactivated, HQ UNC closed at Tokyo and opened in Seoul co-located with the newly-established HQ U.S. Forces, Korea. CINCPAC now exercised unified command for joint and combined operations of US forces in Korea through COMUSKOREA. The headquarters of UNC and USFK were combined; General George H. Decker, USA, was assigned as CINCUNC with the responsibility for exercising combined command over all UN Forces in Korea and to maintain the UNC and ROK forces in a state of readiness to undertake such operations as might be directed by CINCPAC or higher authority.
Commander, Naval Forces, Korea, was established on July 1, 1957, with headquarters in Seoul. The command was created by the reorganization of the Naval Forces, Far East Command into the separate commands of Naval Forces, Japan and Naval Forces, Korea. Commander, Naval Forces, Korea, assumed the following additional duties:
• Commander, Naval Component Command, United Nations Command
• Chief, U.S. Naval Advisory Group, Korea, and Navy Advisor to the Republic of Korea
• Commander, Naval Component Command, U.S. Forces Korea
• On-Call Member, United Nations Military Armistice Commission
The principal mission of CNFK was support of the United Nations Command. In this regard, the commander exercised command of U.S. Naval Forces assigned or attached, and operational control over the Republic of Korea Navy.
The mission of the U.S. Naval Advisory Group, Republic of Korea Navy, including the Marine Corps component thereof, was to advise in the organization, administration, training, and readiness of the Korean Naval Forces afloat, the Korean Naval Shore Establishment, and the Korean Marine Corps. Headquarters maintained in Seoul. A naval detachment operated at Chinhae, and Marine Corps training was largely conducted at Pohang.
In Oct. 1957, CNFK scheduled MARLEX 2-57, a joint ROK Navy/Marine Corps amphibious exercise of regimental size. Further exercises were accomplished the following year. CNFK coordinated MARLEX 1-58 in April 1958. This was a combined U.S./ROK amphibious exercise involving units of ROK Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, with units of U.S. SEVENTH Fleet and First Marine Air Wing. In September 1958, CNFK conducted PHIBLEX 2-58, a joint ROK Navy/Marine Corps amphibious landing exercise with support form the ROK Air Force and one EIGHTH U.S. Army Helicopter Company.
Chronological Record of Commanders
(Present to 1957)
Rear Admiral Lisa Franchetti
1E2D September 2013 to Present
Rear Admiral William C. McQuilkin
September 2011 to September 2013
Rear Admiral Pete A. Gumataotao
September 2009 to September 2011
Rear Admiral Thomas S. Rowden
September 2007 to September 2009
Rear Admiral James P. Wisecup
September 2005 to September 2008
Rear Admiral Fred Byus, USN
September 2003 to September 2005
Rear Admiral Daniel S. Mastagni, USNR
July 2003 to September 2003
Rear Admiral Gary R. Jones, USN
September 2001 to August 2003
Rear Admiral William D. Sullivan, USN
October 1999 to September 2001
Rear Admiral Christopher W. Cole, USN
December 1997 to October 1999
Rear Admiral Richard W. Mayo, USN
July 1995 to December 1997
Rear Admiral Edison L. Watkins III, USN
August 1993 to July 1995
Rear Admiral William W. Mathis, USN
January 1991 to August 1993
Rear Admiral Larry G. Vogt, USN
February 1989 to January 1991
Rear Admiral William T. Pendley, USN
October 1986 to February 1989
Rear Admiral Charles F. Horne III, USN
April 1984 to October 1986
Rear Admiral Warren F. Kelley, USN
July 1983 to April 1984
Rear Admiral James G. Storms, USN
July 1981 to July 1983
Rear Admiral Stephen J. Hostettler, USN
July 1979 to July 1981
Rear Admiral Warren C. Hamm, USN
May 1977 to July 1979
Rear Admiral Mark P. Frudden, USN
April 1975 to May 1977
Rear Admiral Henry S. Morgan, Jr., USN
June 1972 to April 1975
Rear Admiral Victor A. Dybdal, USN
September 1970 to June 1972
Rear Admiral George P. Steele, USN
July 1968 to September 1970
Rear Admiral Donal G. Irvine, USN
October 1966 to July 1968
Rear Admiral Woodrow W. McCrory, USN
July 1964 to OCT 1966
Rear Admiral Joseph W. Williams, Jr., USN
March 1964 to July 1964
Rear Admiral John M. Alford, USN
September 1962 to March 1964
Rear Admiral George W. Pressey, USN
August 1960 to September 1962
Rear Admiral John A. Tyree, Jr., USN
September 1959 to August 1960
Captain Thomas W. Hogan, USN
June 1959 to September 1959
Rear Admiral Eugene B. McKinney, USN
June 1958 to June 1959
Rear Admiral Albert E. Jarrell, USN
July 1957 to June 1958