Juho Lee story with additional reporting by Xavier Vavasseur
According to an official DAPA release, the steel cutting took place on 30 December 2021 in Geoje. For the record, steel cutting on the first KSS-III Batch II submarine took place at the DSME shipyard on 13 August 2021. It is is scheduled to be delivered to the ROKN in 2026. DSME won the contract for construction of the second ship-in-class in September 2021.
Jeon Jeon-gyu, head of the Korean Submarine Project Group at the Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), said:
“The start of construction for the second Jang Bogo-class-III Batch-II submarine means that our Navy will have five submarines that displace over 3000 tons in the future. We expect the ship to play a central role in national security.”
The ROKN plans to acquire 3 Batch-II submarines, followed by another 3 Batch-III ships, for a total of 9 KSS-III submarines. The KSS-III, also called the Jang-Bogo-III or Dosan Ahn Changho-class, is the last phase of the KSS program, which, when finished, will see the ROKN acquire a total of 27 submarines.
The KSS-III is the largest class of submarine in the ROKN. The 3,600 ton (surface displacement) Batch-II variant will be capable of carrying 10 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, 4 more than the 3,300 ton (surface displacement) KSS-III Batch-I. Submarine displacement has grown with each phase of the KSS program; the KSS-I and KSS-II displaces 1,200 tons and 1,800 tons respectively when surfaced. The KSS-III Batch-III ships are likely to have a surface displacement of around 4,000 tons. The three KSS-III submarines of the first batch have all been launched. South Korea’s Agency for Defense Development (ADD) successfully completed the launch of its K-SLBM (named Hyunmoo 4-4) on 15 September 2021. The first Batch I sub, ROKS Dosan Ahn Chang-ho (SS-083) was commissioned with the ROKN on 13 August 2021.
The Batch-II is 89 m in length, 9.6 m in width, and has a crew of 50. It will use air-independent propulsion and be able to generate a maximum speed of 20 kts. According to DAPA, the Batch-II will be the second submarine in the world to use lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, after Japan’s Soryu-class. The use of Li-ion batteries means that the ship will be able to remain submerged for longer, making it less vulnerable to anti-submarine platforms. It will also have a more advanced sonar and combat system than previous submarines.
According to DSME, 80% of the components in the Batch-II ships will be produced domestically, a significant increase from previous models. It is hoped that this will create jobs and make the ship more competitive in the export market. However it has already been announced that Spain’s Indra would provide the SIGINT systems and France’s ECA Group would provide the steering consoles.