South Korean navy takes delivery of second KSS-III SSK

KSS-III diesel-electric attack submarine (SSK) ROKS Ahn Mu
KSS-III diesel-electric attack submarine (SSK) ROKS Ahn Mu.

The Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN) has received its second 3,000 tonne KSS-III diesel-electric attack submarine (SSK) ROKS Ahn Mu during a ceremony held at Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME)’s Okpo Shipyard on 20 April, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

Ahn Mu is the second submarine built under the KSS/Changbogo-III Batch I programme that aims to deliver three advanced multi-mission submarines. The type is crewed by around 50 personnel and is equipped with six vertical launching tubes that can carry a variety of weapons, including submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). The first two boats were built by DSME.

DAPA noted that the submarine is a “core” capability under the South Korean government’s Kill Chain pre-emptive strike system, which forms a key pillar of the country’s operational plan to incapacitate the North Korean leadership in a conflict.

Ahn Mu is expected to enter service in 2024 following approximately eight months of operational testing. The third and only boat in the Batch I programme to be built by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), the future ROKS Shin Chaeho, is expected to be delivered in the same year.

The KSS-III programme achieved an important milestone in September 2021, when lead boat ROKS Dosan An Chang-ho successfully carried out a SLBM launch for the first time. Dosan An Chang-ho was commissioned into RoKN service in August that year.

KSS-III Batch I submarines measure 83.5 m-long and displaces around 3,300-3,700 tonnes when submerged. It is equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell-based air-independent propulsion (AIP) system for extended endurance, and has a maximum stated speed of 20 kt and cruising range of 10,000 nautical miles.

Military sources then told the authoritative Yonhap News that production of the new SLBM, reportedly designated Hyunmoo 4-4, are expected to commence following further testing. The missile is believed to be derived from the Hyunmoo-2B ballistic missile which has a 500 km-range.

by Jr Ng