The Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy took delivery of the sixth Son Won II-class (Type 214) diesel-electric air-independent propulsion (AIP) attack submarine on July 10, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration.
The handover ceremony of the new 1,800-ton submarine, christened Yu Gwan-sun, took place at the South Korean defense contractor Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) shipyard in Geoje Island, near the port city of Busan in the southeastern part of South Korea.
The new Son Won II-class (also known as KSS II–class) sub –a domestic license-built variant of the Type 214 submarine build by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft in Germany — is expected to be commissioned at the end of the year.
“The Yu Gwan-sun is the world’s top-class diesel-powered submarine capable of handling more than 300 underwater targets at the same time,” Choi Hee-kyung, a DAPA official in charge of the program, was quoted as saying, according to Yonhap news agency. “Equipped with a fuel battery system, it can conduct underwater operations for 10 days or longer without surfacing above the water.”
The sub, powered by two MTU Friedrichshafen diesel engines and fitted with an air-independent propulsion system built around Siemens polymer electrolytic membrane fuel cells, can be armed with long-range submarine-to-ground cruise missiles, anti-ship cruise missiles, heavyweight anti-ship torpedoes, and naval mines.
As I explained previously, the ROK Navy expects to operate a fleet of nine Son Won II-class boats alternatively assembled by DSME and Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI):
The recent launch is part of a three-phased naval construction program to build up the ROKN attack submarine force. South Korea currently operates a fleet of nine 1,200-ton Chang Bogo-class diesel-electric attack submarines – a variant of the German Type 209 boat. Under the first phase, the ROKN is planning to upgrade all nine Chang Bogo-class submarines with air-independent propulsion and flank-array sonars over the next few years.
The nine Son Won II-class vessels are part of the second phase of the ROKN’s so-called Korean Attack Submarine program. The third and final phase (and also the most ambitious part of the project) will be the construction of nine indigenously produced 3,000-ton diesel-electric attack submarines – designated KSS-III – equipped with air-independent propulsion and multiple vertical launch tubes from which Hyunmoo-3C cruise missiles with a range of up to 1,500 kilometers can be fired.
Last month, HHI announced that it began work on the third 3,000-ton KSS-III attack submarine, with two other subs of the class currently being assembled by DSME.