South Korea pushes ahead with sub rescue ship03-Jan-2018
South Korea pushes ahead with sub rescue ship
Gordon Arthur / Hong Kong
South Korea is developing a new submarine rescue ship, with the Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) declaring that phase one, a required operational capability test, was successfully passed in November.
The auxiliary vessel, referred to as the ASR-II, for the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) will displace 5,200t. It is slated to enter service in 2022.
Partnering with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), DAPA commenced the project in November 2015. The next phase will involve developing the ship’s systems.
An image released by DAPA reveals a stern flight deck suitable for a medium helicopter, and integral to the design is a centre well. Deep-sea rescue vessels (DSRV) can be lowered through this moon pool to conduct submarine rescues at depths of up to 500m.
The ASR-II will attain speeds of 20kt, and be able to launch DSRVs in seas with waves up to 4m high.
The auxiliary vessel’s mission set will include submarine crew rescue, operational support for submarines, underwater research and mapping support, and the recovery of sunken vessels.
The ROKN has operated another submarine rescue tender, the 103m-long ROKS Cheonghaejin, since its commissioning in 1996. The 4,300t vessel is less capable as it can operate DSRVs in only 2m-high waves and uses an A-frame for launch and recovery.
The ROKN currently has nine Chang Bogo-class (KSS-I based on Type 209) and seven Son Wonil-class (KSS-II based on Type 214) submarines in service. Another two of the latter class are presently under construction.
However, the ROKN is greatly expanding its underwater capabilities with its first indigenously designed class. South Korea’s newest diesel-electric type is the KSS-III displacing 3,400t, with the first of an expected nine boats due for delivery in 2020.
DSME is building two and Hyundai Heavy Industries is constructing one of the first batch of KSS-III submarines that will be equipped with land attack cruise missiles.
Asia-Pacific is experiencing a surge in submarine acquisitions, though few may have properly considered a submarine rescue capacity. JFD, formerly known as James Fisher Defence, supports Australia, India and Singapore with a dedicated submersible rescue capability.
China and Japan have their own rescue submersibles, while South Korea acquired a JFD submersible in 2008. The latter, ROKS DSRV II, is based on the company’s DSAR 500-class submersible. It can carry 16 submariners at a time in its pressurised hull. At the same time as building DSRV II, JFD upgraded the ROKN’s existing LR5K submersible received from Perry Slingsby Systems in 1995.