SEOUL, The Navy and the Air Force said Tuesday they have conducted large-scale joint search and rescue drills in waters off the east coast as part of efforts to bolster the country's disaster relief capabilities.

The joint exercises took place based on a scenario in which the military responds to a major maritime accident that leaves a massive number of people at sea waiting for help.

The maneuvers were launched last year, though the Coast Guard joined the recent drills for the first time.

Upon a distress call, the Coast Guard asks the military to dispatch rescue teams. The Navy then sends a salvage ship and high-speed boats to assess the situation, and the Air Force uses transport planes to drop lifeboats and other tools to save people.

The maneuvers involved various military assets, including the 3,500-ton Gwangyang salvage ship and deep-sea divers from the Navy; C-130 and CN-235 transport aircraft, as well as HH-47 and HH-60 helicopters from the Air Force; and four patrol boats and two coastal rescue boats from the Coast Guard, according to the military.

"These drills are practical and comprehensive ones aimed at boosting joint capabilities to deal with a large-scale maritime accident," Lt. Col. Jeon Gyeong-min said, vowing continued training and drills to protect people.

Source: Yonhap news Agency