Republic of Korea Navy ROKS Ahn Mu (SS-085)
Republic of Korea Navy ROKS Ahn Mu (SS-085)

Republic of Korea Navy Gets New 3,000-ton Submarine with Covert Mission Capabilities

Republic of Korea Navy (ROK Navy) on April 20 received a new 3,000-ton submarine with reinforced capabilities to conduct covert underwater missions and precision strikes. The delivery ceremony for the ROKS Ahn Mu, named after a renowned Korean independence fighter, took place at the Okpo Shipyard of Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co. in Geoje, 331 kilometers southeast of Seoul. It is set to go into service next year following around eight months of operational tests. Yonhap News Agency reported that the new submarine is the second vessel built under the Changbogo-III Batch-I program designed to produce three 3,000-ton, 83-meter-long submarines capable of carrying 50 crewmembers. Its launch ceremony was held in November 2020.

The Dosan Ahn Changho class incorporates the Korean Vertical Launching System which will be able to carry up to ten indigenous “Chonryong” land-attack cruise missiles and “Hyunmoo” submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), becoming the first submarines in the South Korean navy to have this kind of capability. It is equipped with vertical launching tubes for submarine-launched ballistic missiles that would enable the vessel to carry out precision strikes at key ground targets in a “strategic” contingency mission. The ROKS Ahn Mu as a “core” asset of the South’s Kill Chain preemptive strike system, a pillar of its three-pronged defense architecture that includes the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation, an operational plan to incapacitate the North Korean leadership in a conflict, and the Korea Air and Missile Defense system.

The launching ceremony for the 2nd KSS III submarine was held at Geoje Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Okpo Shipyard.
The launching ceremony for the 2nd KSS III submarine ROKS Ahn Mu was held at Geoje Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Okpo Shipyard. (Photo by Republic of Korea Navy)

The submarine also features the latest vibration and noise reduction technologies, as well as an advanced combat and sonar system. They will also have many other improvements compared to their predecessors built with a greater degree of South Korean technology, especially in the later batches, which will include Samsung SDI lithium-ion batteries. Measured to displace over 3,800 tonnes (3,700 long tons) submerged during sea trials, they are the largest conventional submarines ever built by South Korea. The Batch II vessels will increase their displacement by approximately 450 t (440 long tons) (4,250 t, 4,180 long tons submerged), according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration. Parts made by Korean businesses accounted for 76 percent of the total.

The Dosan Ahn Changho-class (KSS-III) submarines – is a series of diesel-electric attack submarines currently being built for the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN), jointly by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) and Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI). The KSS-III is the final phase of the Korean Attack Submarine program, a three-phased program to build 27 attack submarines for the ROKN, between 1994–2029. The KSS-III initiative consists of the development of nine diesel-electric attack submarines, capable of firing submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), to be built in three batches, between 2014–2029. A total of three submarines of the first batch of the series have been launched, with the first submarine, ROKS Dosan Ahn Changho, being commissioned on 13 August 2019.

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