Navy to add submarines in answer to North’s fleet

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Navy to add submarines in answer to North’s fleet

The Navy will launch a defense headquarters for undersea operations and build more operational submarines to defend against North Korea’s military.

“Launching a headquarters for submarines is urgent, because of the gaping difference between South and North Korean Navy forces,” an official at the National Assembly told the JoongAng Ilbo on condition of anonymity.

“A submarine is classified as a strategic weapon by its ability to sneak into the enemy’s waters, but we only have about 10 submarines while the North Korean Navy has more than 70.”

According to this year’s naval budget plan that the JoongAng Ilbo obtained from the parliament’s National Defense Committee, the Navy was allotted 639 million won ($564,338) to launch a submarine control center.

“The budget was given to the Navy for launching the headquarters by 2015,” the official said.

According to parliament, the submarine headquarters were planned for the first time under the Roh Moo-hyun administration with a goal of launching it by 2012, but it had been postponed by the Lee Myung-bak administration until last year.

The Ministry of National Defense didn’t mention the headquarters when it gave a briefing of this year’s budget to reporters, raising speculation that the plan seemed to be scrapped this year as well.

According to the ministry, South Korea currently has around 10 submarines, including three 1,800-ton models.

A rear admiral is directing a naval strike group of the submarines, but the size of the group will be expanded, and another, higher-ranking rear admiral will direct them.

For the headquarters, the Navy told the JoongAng Ilbo that they are now planning to build several 214-ton submarines and larger ones as well, such as a 3,000-ton model.

As part of the continuous effort to increase naval capabilities, South Korea and the United States will stage an unprecedented large-scale joint drill in the Yellow Sea, mobilizing 20 fleets including the 7,000-ton Aegis destroyer, between Monday and Saturday of next week.

South Korea’s second guided missile destroyer, the 7,600-ton King Sejong-class destroyer Yulgok Yi I, will also participate in the drill for the first time, the Navy said.

By Jung Hyo-sik, Kim Hee-jin []

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