SEOUL: The South Korean Navy will set up a submarine command next month as part of efforts to boost the country’s underwater capabilities, a naval officer said on Sunday.
“The submarine command will be established on Feb. 1 in the southern port city of Jinhae after extending the current 9th submarine flotilla,” the naval officer said, requesting anonymity.
The new command will be in charge of the naval underwater capabilities under the leadership of a two-star general, he added.
“It will operate nine 1,200-ton submarines and four 1,800-ton ones the Navy currently has and will run five more 1,800-ton submarines to be built by 2018,” the officer said.
As part of efforts to bolster its anti-submarine capabilities in the wake of the North’s deadly attack on its warship Cheonan in 2010, South Korea is also planning to put six 3,000-ton ballistic missile submarines into operation starting in 2020. The sinking killed 46 South Korean sailors, while Pyongyang has denied any involvement.
According to military sources, North Korea far outnumbers South Korea in terms of submarines, though they are outdated.
Pyongyang is believed to have some 70 submarines including some 20 1,800-ton Romeo-class submarines and to build a new submarine capable of firing missiles, according to the sources in South Korea and the United States.