South Korea unveiled a new 1,800-ton attack submarine on Thursday amid its stepped-up efforts to cope with evolving maritime security challenges such as from North Korea.
The 214-class submarine, the country’s sixth, was built by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co. and for the first time named after a woman ― Yu Gwan-sun, a venerated independent fighter during Japanese colonial rule.
Defense Minister Han Min-koo, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Chung Ho-seop, other top military and industry officials and Yu’s families attended the launching ceremony held on Geojedo Island, South Gyeongsang Province.
“The submarine is equipped with antiship, antisubmarine and offensive mining operations capabilities and will be loaded with Korean cruise missiles capable of precision strikes against key facilities of the enemy,” the Navy said in a statement.
South Korea’s military and government officials attend the launch ceremony of a new 1,800-ton attack submarine, Yu Gwan-sun, at Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering’s shipyard on Geojedo Island, South Gyeongsang Province, Thursday. (Yonhap)
To be commissioned in November 2016, the diesel-powered sub has a maximum underwater speed of 20 knots (37 kilometers per hour), which makes it possible to travel between South Korea and Hawaii without refueling.
It will be operated by Air Independent Propulsion, which bolsters the vessel’s submerged endurance and allows the crew to carry out underwater missions for up to two weeks without access to atmospheric oxygen.
The Navy currently has 13 submarines: nine 1,200-ton, 209-class submarines and four 1,800-ton, 214-class submarines. By 2019, its fleet is slated to be expanded to 18 submarines with the addition of five 214-class submarines.
In the 2020s, the Navy plans to add nine 3,000-ton submarines fitted with vertical launchers for submarine-to-ground missiles. The 209-class submarines, introduced in 1992, will be decommissioned in the 2020s as the new submarines are introduced.
According to the country’s 2014 defense white paper, North Korea has some 70 submarines including midget submarines, but many of them are old and small-scale.
The U.S. has 72 including 58 strategic nuclear-powered submarines, while China has 70 including four nuclear submarines. Japan has 18 submarines, while Russia has 64 including 11 nuclear-powered ones.
By Shin Hyon-hee (firstname.lastname@example.org)