Late last week, the South Korean Navy officially welcomed its newest frigate bearing the namesake of a smaller warship allegedly torpedoed by North Korea in 2010.

Named ROKS Cheonan (FFG-826), the country’s seventh 2,800-ton Daegu-class frigate had its commissioning ceremony last Friday held at a major naval base in Changwon, southeast of Seoul.

ROK stands for the Republic of Korea, the official name of South Korea, in contrast to DPRK, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name of the North.

Allegedly Sunken by the North

According to Yonhap News Agency, the service specifically chose the name and ceremony location to honor its previous namesake bearer, the ROKS Cheonan (PCC-772), where the DPRK midget submarine allegedly sunk the vessel. This decision came as the South’s way of firmly telling its North counterpart that it is yet to forget the attack nor back down from its commitment to defend its territory.

Moreover, the commissioning of the new Cheonan came at a time of heightened tensions between the ROK and DPRK, making it even more symbolic.

On that fateful night of March 26, 2010, the 1,200-ton Pohang-class Corvette was on patrol in the Yellow Sea at the de facto inter-Korean border when it got hit by an alleged North Korean torpedo. The sinking killed 46 sailors aboard and injured 58 others, and caused a major escalation in tensions between the two Koreas.

A collage of photos showing the damage to the ROKS Cheonan (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

DPRK has since denied involvement in the sinking, but ROK and its allies imposed sanctions on the North in response, further straining its already deteriorating relations.

Former crew members of the Corvette attended the commissioning ceremony, including the warship’s captain Choi Won-il and the family members of the fallen sailors.