DSME Launches ROK Navy’s First 3,000-Ton VLS-Equipped KSS-III Diesel-Electric Submarine

South Korean shipbuilder, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) launched the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy’s first 3,000-ton KSS-III diesel-electric attack submarine, Dosan Ahn Chang-ho, during a ceremony at its Okpo Shipyard in Geoje on Friday, Sept. 14.

The launching ceremony was attended by 350 people, including government and military officials and employees of the shipbuilder, the Navy said.

Dosan Ahn Chang-ho will become the first ROK Navy submarine with dedicated vertical launching system capable of launching cruise missiles, or even ballistic missiles, as the earlier types were only equipped with torpedo tubes capable of launching torpedos and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

The construction of Dosan Ahn Chang-ho was started in November 2014 and the keel of the vessel was laid in May 2016. The submarine is set to be delivered to the Navy in December 2020 after tests. Its operational deployment is slated for January 2022.

The construction of the new submarine is part of South Korea’s project to domestically build the 3,000-ton KSS-III (Jangbogo III) submarine. The project, worth 3.33 trillion won (US$2.97 billion), was launched in 2007 and is set to end in 2023. After the naming of the first ship as Dosan Ahn Chang-ho, all the submarines built under the project, will be known as Dosan An Chang-Ho-class submarines.

While the country’s existing 1,200-ton KSS-I Chang Bo-go class submarines and 1,800-ton KSS-II Sohn Won-il class attack submarines were based on Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) Germany’s Type 209 and Type 214 submarines respectively, the latest submarine has been domestically designed, and 76 percent of its component parts were made by Korean businesses.

This new class of ship will have the Korean Vertical Launching System (K-VLS or KVLS) which will be able to carry up to 10 indigenous Chonryong submarine-launched cruise missiles (SLCM) making it the first submarine class in the Republic of Korea Navy to have this kind of capability. It will also have many other improvements compared to its predecessors.

Reports also indicate that South Korea might even deploy submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) inside the vertical launchers. Development of SLBMs by Agency for Defense Development (ADD) is expected to be completed by 2020. SLBMs will be a derivative of Hyunmoo-2 ballistic missiles having a range of 300 km.

The new 83.3-meter-long, 9.6-meter-wide submarine can operate underwater for 20 days without surfacing and is capable of carrying 50 crew members.

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