Tag Archives: South Korea

South Korea – Navy launches 4th 1,800-ton attack submarine

South Korea’s Navy launched its fourth 1,800-ton Type 214 submarine in a ceremony here on Tuesday as part of efforts to boost its underwater warfare capabilities against North Korean submarines.

   The ship, named after Korea’s famous independence fighter Kim Jwa-jin (1889-1930), is the fourth of its kind in operation since 2010. Kim is Korea’s first general of independence fighters who led the Cheongsan-ri battle to defeat 3,300 Japanese soldiers in China’s northeastern region in 1920.

President Park Geun-hye, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin and senior military officials attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony held at Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering’s shipyard in Geoje Island, close to the southern port city of Busan.

The late general’s daughter Kim Eul-dong, an incumbent lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party, and actor Song Il-kook, his grandson, also attended the ceremony.

The ship can hit 300 targets simultaneously, and is equipped with ship-to-land missiles and torpedoes as well as an advanced sonar system for anti-submarine warfare, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

The diesel-powered submarine is operated by Air Independent Propulsion (AIP), which extends the ship’s submerged endurance compared to conventional submarines. The AIP system enables the crew to carry out underwater missions for several weeks without the need to access atmospheric oxygen.

The Navy will take delivery of the attack submarine in late 2014 and deploy it in 2015 for naval operations, officials said.

South Korea currently operates over 10 submarines, including 1,200-ton Type 209 subs and 1,800-ton Type 214 subs.

The Navy plans to acquire nine 3,000-ton level heavy-attack submarines after 2020 with significant improvements in their radar and armament systems compared to their predecessors.

North Korea is known to have about 70 submarines, one of which is suspected of having torpedoed a South Korean corvette in the tensely guarded western sea in March 2010. A total of 46 sailors were killed in the incident.

Source – Yonhap News

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S. Korean Navy offers insight into demanding submarine life

 — Life aboard a submarine can be tough. Operations are hectic, quarters are cramped and the health of crew members can suffer as a result.
Captain Hyun Chang-hoon used to have strong teeth before he joined the submarine fleet more than 20 years ago, but now the 47-year-old suffers from dental disease, which is a common health problem for veteran submariners due to the higher-than-normal amount of carbon dioxide inside a submarine.

“Think about artificial teeth left in a can of Coca-Cola, which contains carbon dioxide. Teeth will dissolve a couple days later,” Hyun said. “My bad teeth are just one example of life in the deep sea where there’s no light.”
Hyun, the captain of a 1,800-ton submarine named after a famous independence fighter Ahn Jung-geun (1877-1910), was speaking of the intense lifestyle of soldiers in this unit during a Yonhap reporter’s visit to the ninth flotilla submarine base in the southeastern port city of Jinhae.

Poor dental hygiene is just one of the hardships crew members face when living in cramped quarters for extended periods of time.

“When I returned to home after completing months-long missions, I went to a public sauna to get rid of all kinds of body odor. But it didn’t go away,” said a vice admiral who had served in the submarine unit for nearly 30 years.

Due to confined space, no women have been allowed in the unit since its establishment in the early 1990s.

The Navy recently revealed the Type 214 submarine — the third of its kind in operation since 2010 — to give the public a very rare insight into various aspects of its weaponry, machinery, confined spaces and life aboard.

The atmosphere in the unit is derived not only from the nature of its missions, which require about 40 men to remain together underwater in an iron tube for many long days, but also because very few soldiers serve in the unit.

Secrecy and noise reduction is important to the submarine crew so they won’t be detected by the sonar of other submarines. Wearing boots with layers of soft-cushions on the heel is one way they reduce noise.

The Diesel submarine is operated by Air Independent Propulsion (AIP), which extends the ship’s submerged endurance compared to conventional submarines. The AIP system enables the crew to carry out underwater missions for several weeks without the need to access atmospheric oxygen.

It is equipped with ship-to-land missiles and torpedoes as well as an advanced sonar system for anti-submarine warfare, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

South Korea currently operates over 10 submarines, including 1,200-ton Type 209 subs and 1,800-ton Type 214 subs.

The Navy plans to acquire nine 3,000-ton level heavy-attack submarines after 2020 with significant improvements in their radar and armament systems compared to their predecessors. A total of nine 3,000-ton submarines are expected to be built in South Korea with indigenous technologies, according to officials. By 2020, there will be over 20 ships operated by the Navy.

As the flotilla is expected to receive more ships in coming years, it is due to become South Korea’s submarine headquarters in 2015.

The procurement plan reflects the intensifying hidden underground battle with North Korea after a South Korean corvette Cheonan was sunk by a suspected North Korean submarine attack in March 2010. A total of 46 sailors were killed in the incident.

Navy officials stressed the need to beef up the submarine capabilities, citing growing naval tensions around the Korean Peninsula that could turn into an armed conflict.

China’s growing naval presence and Japan’s military build up to counter it also highlight the need for better anti-submarine warfare capabilities, they said.

“We will play a key role in deterring North Korea’s naval provocations and protect national interests in the deep sea,” Hyun said.

The biggest challenge for that goal is attracting and retaining skilled officers and crew members, as fewer cadets have applied for the intense submarine unit in recent years as the recruiting system was changed.

When the flotilla was first launched two decades ago, top-ranking cadets were selected for the submarine program and joined the ranks of the submarine flotilla to operate strategic naval weapons against North Korea. The communist country has operated a large submarine fleet since the 1960s.

After the recruiting system came under criticism for depriving cadets the opportunity to choose other units, the Navy now accepts applications for volunteers who want to become submariners. Instructors say they have difficulties enticing cadets and non-commissioned officers in joining the crew.
To tackle the manpower problem, the Navy is seeking to increase the pay of submariners, but receiving more government funding is no easy task, said a Navy captain in charge of the submarine training unit.

“We need more crew with in-depth knowledge and passion for the role submarines are expected to play in maritime strategy,” Hyun said.

South Korea, U.S. hold submarine drill in Yellow Sea

South Korea and the United States on Monday began an anti-submarine drill in the tensely guarded western sea as part of regular exercises amid high tensions with North Korea, military officials said.
The anti-submarine warfare exercise, which lasts until Friday, is the second in a planned series of this year’s combined military maneuvers following the last one in February.

The joint naval drill mobilizes a nuclear-powered Los Angeles-class submarine, Aegis destroyers, P-3C maritime surveillance aircrafts deployed from U.S. bases as well as South Korean destroyers, submarines and maritime aircrafts, military officials said.

“It is part of an annual routine drill held to prepare against an adversary’s submarine infiltration,” a military official said, requesting anonymity.

The latest military training comes after the two allies completed their two-month-long Foal Eagle exercise last week, amid high inter-Korean tensions due to Pyongyang’s warlike threats against Seoul and Washington.

On Sunday, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency condemned the upcoming naval drill, saying the fate of a joint industrial zone in the North hinges on Seoul.

Claiming a 97,000-ton Nimitz-class nuclear powered super carrier is expected to join the training, a spokesman for the Policy Department of the National Defense Commission called on Seoul to stop “hostile acts and military provocations” if it wants to normalize the suspended Kaesong Industrial Zone.

In response to Pyongyang’s call to stop military training to resume inter-Korean talks, Seoul’s defense ministry on Monday vowed not to give in to Pyongyang’s demands.

“It is inappropriate that the North is demanding the cancellation of South Korea-U.S. joint drills by linking it with the Kaesong Industrial Complex,” defense ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said in a briefing. “As the drills are designed to defend against North Korean provocations, they cannot be stopped.”

“As long as the North maintains its hostile stance, the joint drills will continue,” Kim said.

Although Pyongyang has routinely called the annual training a rehearsal for a northward invasion, its rhetoric turned more hostile this year under young leader Kim Jong-un, even threatening nuclear strikes against the South and the U.S.

According to the U.S. Navy’s website, the Nimitz Strike Group, consisting of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and guided-missile destroyers and cruisers, arrived in the U.S. 7th Fleet on May 3.

The Nimitz Strike Group will conduct exercises and port visits to enhance maritime partnerships and promote peace and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region along with its allies, the U.S. Navy said.

Seoul’s defense ministry didn’t confirm the participation of the U.S. carrier, noting consultations are currently underway between the two sides.

North Korea has a large fleet of submarines, and one of them is blamed for torpedoing the South Korean warship Cheonan in the Yellow Sea in March 2010, killing 46 sailors.

About 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice agreement, not a peace treaty.

South Korea & U.S. carry out naval drills with nuclear attack submarine

South Korean and U.S. forces have been carrying out naval drills in seas around the peninsula with a nuclear attack submarine as part of their annual exercise, military sources said Wednesday, in a show of power against North Korea’s threat of nuclear attack.
The two-month field training, called Foal Eagle, has been in full swing to test the combat readiness of the allies, amid high tension on the Korean Peninsula in light of a torrent of bellicose rhetoric by North Korea. It kicked off on March 1 and runs through April 30.

U.S. nuclear attack submarine USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) is anchored at the southeastern port city of Busan on March 20, 2013.

The U.S. nuclear attack submarine USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) has been carrying out anti-submarine drills since March 13 along the east and south coasts of the peninsula, according to military officials.

“Cheyenne is carrying out anti-submarine drills with South Korea’s Navy east and south of the peninsula,” a military source said, asking for anonymity. “Although it doesn’t carry nuclear missiles, it has long-range cruise missiles that attack ground targets from the sea.”
Although the U.S. navy has sent its nuclear submarines in past drills, military equipment capable of delivering nuclear weapons mobilized in this year’s drill, such as the B-52, have drawn keen attention after Pyongyang threatened a pre-emptive nuclear strike against Seoul and Washington in the wake of U.N. sanctions over its recent nuclear test.
The South Korean Navy deployed an Aegis destroyer, corvettes and submarines as well as anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft to take part in the maneuvers aimed at detecting submerged threats, officials noted.
USS San Francisco (SSN-711), a 6,800-ton Los Angeles-class submarine, in early February participated in a highly publicized joint drill with the South Korean Navy, seen as attempts to send a strong message to the North, which was preparing for its third nuclear test.
In response to the North’s threats of nuclear attack, the Pentagon last week announced the plan to step up its missile defense system against the North and reaffirmed its commitment to provide extended nuclear deterrence on the Korean Peninsula.
During his visit to Seoul on Monday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter promised every possible resource to provide a nuclear umbrella for its ally, revealing that the nuclear-capable B-52 would join the flight training mission on Tuesday.
After the B-52 returned to its Guam base, Pyongyang on Wednesday vowed military action if the U.S. deploys the B-52 again on the peninsula.
North Korea has a large fleet of submarines, and one of them torpedoed a South Korean Navy warship, the Cheonan, in the Yellow Sea on March 26, 2010, according to the conclusion of an international investigation. A total of 46 sailors were killed.

USS San Francisco arrives in S. Korea

U.S. nuclear-powered submarine arrives in S. Korea for joint drill
A U.S. nuclear-powered submarine arrived in the southeastern port city of Jinhae for joint naval drills with South Korea, military officials said Friday, in a move seen as a warning to North Korea ahead of what may be an imminent nuclear test.

USS San Francisco (SSN-711), a 6,800-ton Los Angeles-class submarine, has been anchored at a naval base in Jinhae, 410 kilometers southeast of Seoul, since Thursday to prepare for joint drills slated for next week, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

A 9,800-ton cruiser equipped with missiles and torpedoes as well as naval combat helicopters also arrived in the southern port city of Busan, on the same day, it said.

USS SAn Francicos (SSN-711) anchored at a naval base in Jinhae for joint drills with South Korea ahead of North Korea’s planned nuclear test. (Yonhap)

The port call came as tensions rose on the Korean Peninsula after the North last month warned of a nuclear test in response to the U.N. Security Council’s increased sanctions on Pyongyang for its December rocket launch.

A new nuclear test would mark the North’s third since two previous tests in 2006 and 2009.

The two U.S. ships and 10 Korean warships, including Aegis destroyers and battle ships, will carry out the joint exercises in the East Sea to test combat readiness between the two sides, the JCS said, though a specific date has not yet been confirmed.

In a visit to the naval base in Jinhae, JCS Chairman Jung Seung-jo said Thursday the North has nearly completed its preparations for a nuclear test at its Punggye-ri testing location, noting increased activity spotted by satellites near the nuclear site.

“We are closely looking into whether (increased activity) is a manipulating tactic or preparations for a nuclear test indeed,” Jung told reporters, during a tour of the submarine. “The North is ready to conduct an atomic test at any time if the leadership makes a decision.”

Jung Seung-jo, the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, visits a naval base in the southeastern city of Jinhae. (Yonhap)

Although U.S. nuclear-powered submarines have occasionally made port calls in the past, Jung said the latest visit is “meaningful because it is for joint drills.”

“The upcoming drill, which had already been planned, is not targeted for (North Korea’s) nuclear test,” Jung told reporters, adding that the exercise is aimed at coping with possible North Korean provocations involving submarines.

Jung did not elaborate when the two sides had agreed on the exercise plan.

Military officials in Seoul expect the exercise will show their determination to respond sternly if the communist nation defies a chorus of international warnings.

“Although it is a pre-planned exercise, this upcoming joint drill will send a message to North Korea that any misbehavior will not be overlooked,” the official said, asking for anonymity due to sensitivity of the issue.

After the North warned of “substantial and high-profile important state measures,” senior military officials have visited front-line units to order vigilance in an effort to add pressure on the isolated state to drop the test plan, which is feared to raise tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

In a meeting with top security ministers Thursday, President Lee Myung-bak warned of “grave consequences” if Pyongyang moves forward with the test, urging the defense minister, spy chief and national security advisers to maintain strong military preparedness against any provocations from the North.
About 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea as a deterrence against North Korea, after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.