South Korea held a launching ceremony Friday for a 3,000-ton diesel-electric air-independent propulsion submarine designed to bolster underwater defense capabilities, according to the Yonhap.
The vessel is named after Dosan Ahn Chang-ho, one of the nation’s most respected independence activists during the 1910-45 Japanese occupation. Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) manufactured the next-generation underwater fleet. Dosan’s grandson, Ahn Robert Alan, was also invited to the launch ceremony.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) signed the submarine manufacturing contract with DSME in 2012, in a bid to enhance the nation’s naval combat prowess by introducing the mid-sized submarine.
The vessel belongs to the first batch of the Korean Submarine (KSS)-III project. Starting from 2020, the Navy will start introducing nine Ahn Chang-ho submarines to replace existing smaller vessels, according to DAPA.
A group of high-ranking officials ― including President Moon Jae-in and Defense Minister Song Young-moo ― participated in its launch ceremony.
“The launch of the Dosan Ahn Chang-ho submarine displays our capabilities for national defense, and starting with the event, our defense industry will take a big leap forward,” Moon said in a speech while joining the launch ceremony, Friday.
Of note is that the latest submarine has achieved a 76-percent parts localization ratio, a whopping growth from 33 percent during the 1990s when the KSS-I project was underway.
“We are on track to increase the localization ratio for the submarine manufacturing project,” a DAPA official said. “Korea can now manufacture most of the key submarine components ― including the sound navigation and ranging (Sonar) ― without the help of overseas technologies. For upcoming projects, we are going to increase the ratio to hold tighter grip on naval defense capabilities.”
Sonar systems are the most critical and high-tech part of submarines, serving as an ear of underwater fleets. The Navy’s submarines here and abroad use the systems to detect enemy objects or underwater mines.