SEOUL, Aug. 13 (Yonhap) -- The Navy on Friday received the country's first 3,000-ton-class indigenous submarine capable of firing submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) to bolster underwater defense capabilities, officials said.
The commissioning ceremony for the mid-class diesel air-independent propulsion submarine, named after prominent South Korean independence fighter Dosan Ahn Chang-ho, took place at the Okpo Shipyard of Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co. on the southern island of Geoje.
It is the first of three 3,000-ton-class Changbogo-III Batch-I submarines that South Korea plans to build by 2023 with its own technologies under a 3.09 trillion won (US$2.7 billion) project launched in 2007.
The latest submarine was domestically designed with 76 percent of its component parts locally made.
The 83.5-meter-long and 9.6-meter-wide submarine can carry 50 crewmembers and is capable of firing submarine-to-ground ballistic missiles with six vertical launching tubes. It can operate underwater for 20 days without surfacing, officials said.
The Navy said the Dosan Ahn Chang-ho will be deployed by August next year after yearlong evaluations.
"After the deployment, the submarine will take an active role as the country's strategic weapons system against threats," the Navy said in a release.
South Korea currently operates 1,200-ton and 1,800-ton submarines.
North Korea is believed to have 70 subs, most of which are known to be outdated and unfit for operations beyond coastal waters. It has been working to build a new submarine believed to be a 3,000-ton one capable of carrying SLBMs.