South Korea's new 3,000-ton indigenous submarine, Ahn Mu, at the Okpo Shipyard of Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering in the southeastern city of Geoje. Credit: Yonhap.

South Korea’s navy got a bit stronger this week, with the launch of a new 3,000-ton indigenous submarine capable of launching ballistic missiles.

The ceremony for the mid-class diesel-powered submarine, named after a prominent Korean independent fighter, Ahn Mu, took place at the Okpo Shipyard of Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co. in the southeastern city of Geoje, Korea Times reported.

The Ahn Mu is the second of three 3,000-ton-class submarines in a “Batch I” to be built by 2023, and can carry 50 crew members. The 83.3-meter-long and 9.6-meter-wide submarine can operate underwater for 20 days without surfacing, according to Korea Times.

The submarines are part of a US$2.77 billion project that began in 2007. The Ahn Mu joins the Dosan Ahn Chang-ho, which was launched in 2018.

The Dosan Ahn Chang-ho reached its maximum depth during sea trials in 2019, but the maximum dive depth for the submersible craft, built by Daewoo Shipbuilding Marine Engineering remains classified, UPI reported.

It is equipped with six vertical launching tubes capable of firing submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), which is expected to further beef up the country’s defense capabilities, according to military officials, The Korea Herald reported.

Key equipment of the new submarine, including advanced combat and sonar system, was developed with the country’s own technologies, with 76% of the parts being made by Korean businesses, the arms procurement agency said.

Seoul’s defense chief Suh Wook the diesel-powered submarine brings pride to the South’s military and pays tribute to Korea’s independence fighters who died during Japan’s colonial occupation of the peninsula, UPI reported.

The new submarine is named after Ahn Mu, a Korean general in pre-colonial Korea, who was executed by Japanese police in 1924, after leading the Battle of Bongo-dong and Cheongsan-ri in 1920, UPI reported.

Korea observed the 100th anniversary of the armed struggle between the Korean independence militias and the Japanese Army in Manchuria this year.

Suh said Tuesday that he could “feel the dignified spirit of the general who commanded the Manchurian field 100 years ago” at the launch, UPI reported.

South Korean submarines commissioned after 2010 have been named after various anti-colonial fighters and martyrs.

The South Korean defense minister also said threats are rising in the world’s seas, and that Seoul’s navy will be “reborn as an advanced ocean navy, with the next generation of Korean destroyers and a 4,000-ton submarine.”

Currently, South Korea operates nine 1,200-ton and nine 1,800-ton submarines, UPI reported. 

“As history tells us, peace is not just given for free. It should be made by ourselves based upon strong power,” Suh said during the ceremony.

“I am sure that the Ahn Mu will surely contribute to peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the whole world.”