South Korea’s Growing Submarine Fleet

Since the early 1990’s South Korea has made steady progress on a program of expanding its submarine force. The first phase included the construction of nine Jang Bogo Class boats of 1,200 tons, approximately 184 feet long and 21 feet in diameter. The second phase was an additional nine boats of the Type 214 submarines with Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) cruise missile capable. Built by Germany’s HDW they are 214 feet in length and of 20 feet in diameter. The current third phase includes orders for nine more boats of the Dosan Ahn Chang-ho, capable of firing submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM). The Diesel electric powered AIP can reach speeds of 20 knots. The ROK Navy also awarded a 1.1 trillion dollar contract for construction of a 3,600 ton submarine. Admiral Kim Myung-soo, a nominee for ROK Joint Chiefs, also expressed interest in acquiring an SSN. Somewhat a wish list item, a South Korean and U.S. nuclear agreement restricts nuclear material in military use. Should that agreement be modified South Korea would still face the problem of contracting a long-term nuclear fuel supplier.

© Gregg Smith

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