U.S. Navy Sailor to voyage around the world with Korean Navy

U.S. Navy Sailor to voyage around the world with Korean Navy

by Enjoli J. Di Patri
Commander, Navy Region Korea

JINHAE, South Korea - What sailor hasn’t joined the Navy with dreams of sailing around the world? As the leaves begin to fall in South Korea, Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Wehner prepares to set sail for just such a dream.

Wehner will become the first U.S. Foreign Officer to join Republic of Korea Naval Academy (ROKNA) midshipmen as part of the ROKNA Cruise Training Task Group around the world.

“There is something visceral about traveling over the water where you are able to slowly see the climate changing day by day, or depart from one port and arrive on a different continent without leaving the surface of the Earth,” Wehner said.

Sailors will visit 14 ports that span 13 countries marking the seventh world cruise in ROKNA’s 70 years of cruise training.

Many Korean midshipmen participating in the world cruise training have sat in Wehner’s classroom over the years in Jinhae, South Korea where he is a professor of English. He arrived in Jinhae, home to the only U.S. naval base on the Korean peninsula, Commander, Fleet Activities Chinhae, in 2020 when the 78th class of Korean cadets were freshmen. Wehner taught those same students when they were sophomores through their senior year at the ROKNA.

“I’ve enjoyed my time so much in Korea that I actually requested to extend my tour,” he said. Wehner is looking forward to continuing to contribute to the cadets’ professional development at sea. “It has been an honor to work with the midshipmen over these past few years and see them mature from college students to become military officers next year.”

Korean cruise training serves as the final, practical military training for Korean cadets before they become naval officers next year.

The Raleigh, North Carolina, native, who dreamed about sailing around the world as a boy, and teaching overseas has had a memorable experience within the Korean community where he lives. “Working in Jinhae has been the most rewarding job I’ve ever done,” he said. “I’ve made some of my closest friends there and I’ve had experiences as an exchange officer in Korea that I will remember for the rest of my life.”

The Korean naval ships, Han San Do and Hwa Cheon (AOE-1), carrying the sailors will return to Jinhae January 15, 2024, after traveling a distance that equates to one and a half times around Earth.


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