The Korean submarine force was founded on June 1, 1990 with the 57th Submarine Squadron. In 1992, its first 1,200-tonnes Type 209 submarine, Chang Bogo-class, was acquired (KSS I program). The 57th Squadron was upgraded to the 9th submarine squadron on October 1, 1995. In 2007, it acquired its first submarine equipped with the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system, the Son Won Il-class (Type 214) displacing 1400-tonnes (KSS II program).
“For the past 30 years, submarines have supported the peace by completing their mission as national strategic unit of the Republic of Korea. Our Submarines have traveled a total of 2.8 million miles without any accidents in 30 years, a record among the major countries operating submarines. “Commander Jung Seung-gyun, Chief of ROK Navy’s Submarine Force
On February 1, 2015, the 9th submarine squadron was upgraded to the “submarine command”, making South Korea the 6th largest submarine force in the world after the United States, Japan, France, the United Kingdom and India. In September 2018, Korea launched its own locally-designed and built 3,000-tonnes submarine “Dosan Ahn Changho” (KSS III program).
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Here are the submarine classes currently in service within the ROK Navy:
KSS-I or Chang Bogo-class submarine
KSS-I is a variant of the German type 209 diesel-electric attack submarine. They were constructed by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME). Nine are in service, the first one was commissionned in 1993 and the last one in 2001. The class recently underwent a Performance Improvement Program (PIP) with local company LIG Nex1 as the main contractor.
Chang Bogo-class Main Specifications:
- Displacement: 1200 tonnes
- Length: 56-61m
- Beam: 6.3m
- Draft 5.5m
- Propulsion: 4 MTU Type 8V396 SE diesel engines; 1 Siemens electric motor; 1 shaft
- Speed: 11 knots surfaced; 21 knots submerged
- Range: 11000 nautical miles surfaced; 400 submerged
- Crew: 33
- Weapons: 8 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes; 14 SUT torpedoes; UGM-84 Harpoon integration
KSS-II or Son Won Il-class submarine
The Type 214 is a diesel-electric submarine developed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft which features diesel propulsion with an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system. The ROK Navy have nine of those submarines in service. The first three types were assembled by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) and the six others were split between HHI and DSME. Check out our video interview with the Commanding Officer of ROKS Jung Ji, the second of the KSS II submarines of the ROK Navy.
Son Won Il-class Main Specifications:
- Displacement: 1,690 t surfaced / 1,860 t submerged
- Length: 65 m
- Beam: 6.3 m
- Draught: 6 m
- Weapons: 8 x 533 mm torpedo tubes, 4 subharpoon-capable
- Propulsion: 2 x MTU 16V-396; 2 x Piller; AIP system: 2 x HDW PEM; 1 x Siemens Permasyn (2.85 MW)
- Speed: 10 knots surfaced; 20 knots submerged
- Range: 12,000 nautical miles surfaced; 420 submerged
- Crew: 27
KSS-III or Dosan Ahn Changho-class submarine
KSS-III are diesel-electric submarines currently under construction by DSME. Nine were ordered and the construction has begun in 2016. The first of the class is launched in 2018 and started its seat trials from DSME Opko shipyard on June 10, 2019. The 3000 tons KSS-III Submarine ‘Dosan Ahn Chang-ho’ passes max depth test on August 22, 2019.
For the record, DSME received a contract from the South Korean Ministry of Defense worth $ 1.56 billion to build two large conventional/diesel electric (SSK) KSS III Batch 1 submarines on December 26, 2012. Then, on November 30, 2016, Hyundai Heavy Industries received a contract to build another boat of the first batch. Delivery of all three boats is scheduled for the end of 2023. In total, the plan is to introduce into the RoK Navy fleet nine KSS III submarines by 2029: including three ships of the second and third series each.
- Batch-I consists in the first two hulls to be built by DSME and the third submarine to be built by HHI.
- Batch-II will consist in three hulls with some design changes. They will be fitted with a greater level of South Korean technology. In May 2016, DAPA selected DSME for “KSS-III Batch-II Design and construction of the first hull”.
- Batch-III will consists in the three remaining hulls with more advanced technologies
Our video coverage on KSS III Batch II as well as its Li-Ion batteries during MADEX 2019: