Navy Initiates Trial for Mobile Phone Use on Warships to Enhance Sailor Welfare

SEOUL—The Navy announced a pilot program allowing sailors to use internet-connected mobile phones while at sea, aiming to improve living conditions onboard.

According to Yonhap News Agency, this move marks a significant shift from the current policy that bans the use of such devices on warships due to security concerns. These concerns include the potential risk of revealing the location of both the users and the vessels. Under the trial, sailors on a warship, stationed in Changwon, 298 kilometers southeast of Seoul, will have internet access via a commercial low Earth orbit satellite. They will be required to install a security application that disables camera and GPS functions, yet allows phone calls and internet browsing. The Navy is set to finalize a contract for this four-month trial in April, with the program costing about 450 million won ($343,000). The initiative responds to the declining conscript enlistment rate in the Navy, which fell from 100.5 percent in 2020 to 70.1 percent in 2022. The trial aims to test if operational security, particularly the concealment of the warship's location, can be maintained using low-orbit commercial satellites.

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