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South Korean Defence Agency to Invest $1.43 Billion to Develop Mine Sweeping Ships

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South Korean Defence Agency to Invest $1.43 Billion to Develop Mine Sweeping Ships

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Republic of Korea Navy Yangyang-class minesweeper ROKS Namhae (MSH 575)
Republic of Korea Navy Yangyang-class minesweeper ROKS Namhae (MSH 575)

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said it would start basic design for the 1.78 trillion won ($1.43 billion) Mine Sweeping Ship (MSH-II) Project. Minesweeper is a ship that has been operated by South Korea since the 1980s and has improved mine search and minesweeping capabilities. It was built as a replacement for the Mine Searching Ship (MHC), whose life cycle has arrived. In December 2022, the DAPA has asked Gangnam Co., Ltd. to complete basic design of the ship by 2025. The first Mine Sweeping Ship built under this project is planned to be deployed in 2029.

In particular, domestic research and development of core equipment such as mine search sonar and complex sensitive mine suppression equipment is expected to guarantee stable follow-up logistical support and have a large ripple effect on the accumulation of defense science and technology and the domestic economy. Through the operation of various unmanned systems such as autonomous underwater mine search vehicles, unmanned mine handlers, and expendable mine removal processors, expansion of the operational range for sea areas where operations are difficult to perform, improvement of combat personnel’s survivability, and reduction of manpower and costs are expected.

Yangyang-class minesweeper is a ship class of minesweepers currently in service on the Republic of Korea Navy. Its main missions are gathering data of ports in the Korean region, and searching naval mine and minesweeping, in wartime. They sometimes used at finding and recovering North Korean missiles, by using Variable Depth Sonar to detect missile fragments. Ongjin, second ship of the class, is famous for finding the stern of ROKS Cheonan at the site of the ROKS Cheonan sinking. The naming of minesweeper ships is taken from the names of counties and towns adjacent to a naval base. For example, Yangyang is the name of Yangyang County, Gangwon Province.

Yangyang-class ships are 60 metres (196 ft 10 in) long, 10.5 m (34 ft 5 in) wide. They are equipped with Multi-purpose machine gun, a 20 mm (0.8 in) main gun, and Mine Disposal Vehicle (MDV). They use two Voith Schneider Propellers as propulsion, to control the ship more precisely. To protect the ship from magnetic mine, the ship’s hull is made of fibre-reinforced plastic, which does not have a magnetic attraction, and lasts longer than commonly used material. It also minimized metallic equipment to tightly control the magnetic material inside the ship. Steel objects that are brought into the ship, like canned food, are heavily restricted and strictly controlled.

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