South Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) handed over the Chang Bogo I-class (Type 209/1200) diesel-electric attack submarine (SSK) Lee Eok Gi to the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) on October 31, South Korea’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) said in a November 1 statement.
Work on the submarine, which first entered service with the ROKN in December 2001, started in July 2018. Upgrades include a new combat management system, a towed array sonar and an improved target detection and tracking capability.The MoD statement emphasizes the indigenous technologies featured in the SSK’s new combat management system.
The ROKN currently operates nine 1,200-ton Chang Bogo I-class SSKs, the first of which entered service in the early 1990s. South Korea is upgrading a total of three submarines of the class with the Lee Eok Gi the third and final of these SSKs to undergo a midlife upgrade under a $154 million contract.
DSME handed over the Chang Bogo I-class Na Dae Yong in June and the Choi Moo Sun in February of this year. All the submarines are capable of launching Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
The Chango Bogo-I-class is part of the MoD’s three-phased Korean Attack Submarine construction program launched in the early 1990s. In addition to the nine SSKs of the Chang Bogo I-class, it includes nine Son Won II-class subs, a variant of the Type 214 SSK of Germany’s Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft, and nine more SSKs of the Jangbogo III-class. As I explained elsewhere:
The entire [Jangbogo III–class] of subs will be produced in three batches. The first batch will include three boats, each fitted with six vertical missile tubes with the first two submarines to be assembled by DSME and the third to be built by South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI). The first three boats are expected to be operational by the early 2020s.
The next batch of three submarines, also fitted with a six-tube vertical launch system, is slated to be deployed by 2025, while the last three boats, reportedly boasting a displacement of over 3,500 tons and equipped with 10 vertical launch tubes each, will all be delivered to the ROKN by 2029. Each batch will reportedly see a gradual increase in the number of indigenous components used for the various sub-systems of the boats.
DSME has launched the first Jangbogo III-class SSK in September 2018. Chang Bogo I-class SSKs are are expected to be gradually replaced by the Jangbogo III-class