1,800-Ton Class Submarine Launched
This picture shows the nation’s first 1,800-ton class submarine equipped with advanced missile systems, launched at the Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in Ulsan Friday. The submarine was named after the country’s first Chief of Naval Operations, the late Adm. Sohn Won-il.
By Jung Sung-ki
The South Korean Navy Friday launched its first, 1,800-ton class, state-of-the-art submarine equipped with advanced missile systems, a Navy spokesman said.
Named after the country’s first Chief of Naval Operations, the late Adm. Sohn Won-il, the 214-Type submarine will play a key role in securing sea lanes for transporting energy supplies and other goods, as well as extending the Navy’s operation range, Commander Jung Sung-yup told The Korea Times.
``The launch of the 214-Type submarine will give our naval capability a great boost and help safeguard our maritime interests,’’ Jung said, adding the Sohn Won-il submarine’s operation will have a combat radius reaching Guam.
Toward achieving a self-reliant defense posture, the Navy has sought a new ``strategic mobile fleet,’’ comprising destroyers, submarines and anti-submarine aircraft, which can be rapidly deployed in a conflict situation.
South Korea currently has nine German-made Type 209 submarines (1,300 tons), all diesel and electric powered. North Korea has a fleet of 88 submarines, including 22 1,700-ton Romio class subs, according to recent government data.
Two more 214-Type submarines are under development at Hyundai Heavy Industries under technical cooperation with Germany, Jung said.
The 214-Type submarine, 65.3 meters long and 6.3 meters wide, is equipped with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) that helps improve its underwater capability. It can submerge to a depth of up to 400 meters and carry out underwater operations for a maximum two weeks at a time.
The submarine, equipped with eight torpedo tubes and advanced submarine-to-surface missiles, has a maximum dive speed of 20 knots and a seating capacity of 40. It costs around $1 billion.
The Sohn Won-il submarine will be declared operational in the second half of next year after undergoing sea trials, according to the Navy.
A launching ceremony was held at the Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in Ulsan, some 320 kilometers southeast of Seoul. President Roh Moo-hyun, Chief of Naval Operations Gen. Nam Hae-il and other top military officials attended.
Adm. Sohn is known as the father of the Korean Navy. He was a key figure in the establishing the Navy in 1945, when he established Haesadae (maritime affairs unit).
During the 1950-53 Korean War, Sohn participated in the Inchon landings, a Korea-U.S. joint operation that led to the liberation of Seoul from communist North Korea.
After the war, he served as defense minister, and in 1957 was appointed ambassador to Germany. He died after a long illness in 1980, aged 72.