This photo, provided by the Navy, shows South Korea's new 3,000-ton indigenous submarine, Ahn Mu, featuring advanced combat and sonar systems. The Navy was to hold a launching ceremony for the mid-class diesel-powered submarine, named after a prominent Korean independence fighter, at the Okpo Shipyard of Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co. in the southeastern city of Geoje on Tuesday. (Republic of Korea Navy)
GEOJE -- South Korea launched a new 3,000-ton-class indigenous submarine on Tuesday capable of firing submarine-launched ballistic missiles in an effort to boost underwater defense capabilities.
The ceremony for the mid-class diesel-powered submarine, named after a prominent Korean independent fighter, Ahn Mu, took place at the Okpo Shipyard of Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co. in the southeastern city of Geoje.
It is the second of three 3,000-ton-class Changbogo-III Batch-I submarines that South Korea plans to build by 2023 with its own technologies under a 3.09 trillion won ($2.77 billion) project launched in 2007. The first submarine, the Dosan Ahn Chang-ho, was launched in 2018 and is expected to be put into operational deployment around the end of this year.
The 83.3-meter-long and 9.6-meter-wide latest submarine is capable of carrying 50 crewmembers and can operate underwater for 20 days without surfacing, officials of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said, adding that it is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in December 2022 and be deployed in January 2024.
It is equipped with six vertical launching tubes capable of firing submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), which is expected to further beef up the country's defense capabilities, according to military officials.
Key equipment of the new submarine, including advanced combat and sonar system, was developed with the country's own technologies, with 76 percent of the parts being made by Korean businesses, the arms procurement agency said.
"As history tells us, peace is not just given for free. It should be made by ourselves based upon strong power," Defense Minister Suh Wook said during the ceremony, which was attended by around 50 people, including the general's descendants, Navy Chief of Staff Boo Suk-jong and Daewoo officials.
"I am sure that the Ahn Mu will surely contribute to peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the whole world," Suh said, vowing to maintain a firm defense readiness posture to support the denuclearization of North Korea and the establishment of a lasting peace.
The naming carries significance, as this year marks the centennial of the historic Bongo-dong and Cheongsan-ri battles that took place in northeastern China in 1920, where Gen. Ahn led Korean independent fighters and defeated Japanese soldiers.
The general sustained gunshot wounds after an ambush attack by Japanese officers, and he was arrested in 1924. He died that year.
Currently, South Korea operates nine 1,200-ton-class submarines and nine 1,800-ton ones.
North Korea is believed to have 70 subs, most of which are known to be outdated and unfit for operations beyond coastal waters. It has been working to build a new submarine believed to be a 3,000-ton one capable of carrying SLBMs. (Yonhap)