South Korea unveiled its sixth 1,800-ton-class attack submarine Thursday aimed at boosting its underwater warfare capabilities against North Korea.The launching ceremony for the 214-class submarine, manufactured by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co. and named after revered independence fighter Yu Gwan-sun (1902-1920), will take place in the southern coastal city of Geoje, South Gyeongsang Province, according to the Navy.
The Navy plans to commission the submarine in November 2016, it said.
"It is the first submarine bearing a woman's name in our history," the Navy said in a statement. "We've christened it Yu Gwan-sun, to honor her sacrifice and to promote public security awareness, marking the 70th anniversary of independence from Japan's colonial rule and the establishment of the Navy." Yu is an iconic symbol who played a major part in the so-called March 1 civil uprising in 1919 against the colonial regime. The Japanese arrested the teenager and sentenced her to seven years in prison, where she died at age 18 after being tortured. Korea was under harsh colonial rule by Japan from 1910-1945.
According to the Navy, the ship is armed with indigenous ship-to-ship cruise missiles named Haeseong, or Sea Star, and torpedoes and mines for anti-vessel and anti-submarine operations. The cruise missiles with a maximum range of 1,500 kilometers are capable of carrying out precision strikes against enemies' key facilities.The sub's maximum underwater speed is 20 knots, which enables it to travel between South Korea and Hawaii without refueling.
The diesel-powered submarine will be operated by Air Independent Propulsion (AIP), which bolsters the vessel's submerged endurance and allows the crew to carry out underwater missions for up to two weeks without access to atmospheric oxygen.Currently, the Navy operates nine 1,200-ton submarines and four 1,800-ton subs, while planning to build five more 1,800-ton submarines by 2019. In addition, it plans to deploy nine 3,000-ton submarines capable of launching ballistic missiles, starting in 2020.
North Korea has a significant superiority in the number of submarines, as is believed to have some 70 vessels, including about 20 1,800-ton Romeo-class submarines. The communist country is also believed to be building a new submarine capable of firing missiles, according to South Korean and U.S. intelligence.