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Navy History

The independence Armed Corps established on November 11, 1945 was the origin of to-day's ROK Navy. In January 1949, the first 600-ton warship (PC) was purchased from the US, and the Marine Corps was established. During the Korean War, the ROK navy along with allied forces played a decisive role in winning the war by protecting sea lines of communications, securing the control of the sea, and successfully conducting the Inchon Amphibious Operation. In 1963, a destroyer was introduced, and in 1972, a Korean high speed boat was built. In 1975, Korean combat ships were built to re-invigorate its naval force. In the 1980s, the ROK Navy began to change its character by establishing close cooperation with Pacific nations through several combined exercises such as the "RIMPAC Exercise" to be the "Ocean-Going Navy." In 1993, the ROK introduced and built submarines, and in 1995, introduced maritime patrol aircraft P-3Cs to increase antisubmarine capabilities.

The Koreans have made their living by fishing and gathering seaweeds since the ancient times as their homeland, the Korean Peninsula, is surrounded by sea in three directions and has long coastline. Based on their long experiences of marine life and the development of productive power, they have accumulated abundant experiences of the marine activities by going to the sea on board the ship they made. Even in the Ancient Chosun period, they built the naval forces against the invasion and their maritime activities were very lively.

In time of the Three Kingdoms, each kingdom had exerted their all-out efforts for securing maritime control while executing various oceanic activities such as sea battles, overseas expeditions, and establishing bases based on strong maritime forces, the people of Paekche, called Asiatic Phoenician, secured the maritime control around the peninsula based on their strong naval power, and governed the vast territories stretching from Shantung, Liaosi to partial Japan islands. While monopolizing the maritime trade, they played a significant role in the dissemination of culture to Japan such as Wang-In's introduction of the Analects of Confucius and other Chinese classics to Japan. And Kingdom of Koguryo, the powerful ancient empire, defeated the Paekche naval forces toward the end of the 4th century A.D. under the rule of the King Kwanggeto the Great, thereby grasping the maritime control of the sea from the Gulf of Pohai to Cheju island.

Moreover, the people of Koguryo repelled amphibious operations by the Sui Dynasty, China, at the Battle of Yellow Sea and the Battle of Salsoo through their excellent naval forces from the end of the 6th century through the beginning of the 7th century.

During the period of the Unified Silla, naval forces were established for the defense of the coastal area, and trade with foreign countries was rather vigorous. In the period of the year 828 through 846, Commissioner Chang Bo-Go ran a major maritime management, establishing Chunghaejin post at Wando island, and seized the control of the Northeast Asian maritime traffic. Commissioner Chang bo-go has been praised, through this kind of maritime management, as great maritime king in the ancient history afterward.

The Kingdom of Koryo, which unified the Later-Three Kingdoms, also inherited the powerful maritime traditions. The ancestor of Taejo, Wang Kun was a local leader who held independent maritime forces and became a man of great wealth through maritime trade with China. Wang Kun was able to build power base for founding Koryo Kingdom later by winning the assault on Najoo(904~935), the strategic point of the Later Paekche Kingdom and the sea battle at Dukjinpo port. As mentioned above, the Koryo Kingdom was the nation that had powerful maritime tradition and power, and so she could endure the world conqueror Mongolian aggression for about half a century. In 1380, she destroyed a group of over 500 Japanese battleships at Jinpo port by naval guns, and this was about two centuries earlier than the West in using naval guns in sea battle then.

Entering the Chosun Dynasty, the powerful maritime forces and its tradition in the early years were gradually weakened by the various factors such as the policy of agriculture first and embargo, contemptuous tendency toward maritime forces, and Confucius ideology. Consequently there were frequent Japanese invasions such as the small war at Sampo port. In the end, in 1592 Japanese general Invasion, endangered the nations fate like a candle before the wind, erupted. In the ground battles, the Japanese offensives were so strong that the army of the Chosun dynasty suffered consecutive losses leading to the capture by the Japanese of the capital city and the nation was in danger of imminent collapse such as to the limit that the king made way to the northern boundary with China.

However in the sea, Admiral Yi Sun-Shin and Chosun naval forces under his command had prepared thoroughly, based on the nation's maritime tradition, against the possible Japanese aggression, and therefore they were victorious in the sea battles, blocking the enemy's further advance and turned the war situation into firm foundation for winning the war, and thereby rescued the nation.

The Military Organization Period
(November 11, 1945 - June 24, 1950)

On August 21, 1945, right after the liberation from Japan, Haesadae(maritime affairs corps) was organized by the late Admiral Sohn Won-Yil as the central figure, and it was integrated with Haesabogukdan(maritime affairs corps to defend the nation) on September 30, thereby establishing The Association of Maritime Affairs. Also on November 11, the Coastal Defense Forces(Haebangbyongdan) was organized and assigned to the National Defense command on January 14, 1946, and later it was renamed, in accordance with the Military Government Ordinance No. 86, Finally on September 5, 1948, the Republic of Korea Navy was officially established following the foundation of the Republic of Korea Government on August 15, 1948.

Navy's major activities for its establishment until the outbreak of the Korean War can be listed as follows: to start education of officers with the establishment of Navy School on January 17, 1946; to carry out education of non-commissioned officers and enlisted men; to construct shipbuilding depot for ship's repair and maintenance on February 1, 1946; to establish officer rank system to set up the military discipline on February 1, 1946; and to institutionalize the rank system for non-commissioned officers and enlisted men on July 1, 1946. In the meantime, since having started coastal defense around Chinhae and the nearby seas on June 7, 1949, the Navy expanded fleet forces by taking over from the United states two military vessels of LCI and succeedingly a landing ship, an oiler, mine hunting ship on October 15.

On August 30, 1947, the Navy took over the task of the maritime defense south of the 38th parallel from the U.S. Navy. Beginning the establishment of Inchon base on April 15, 1946. the Navy expanded bases at main ports such as Mokpo, Mukho, Pusan, Kunsan, Pohang, and Chinhae. Since then the system for coastal defence has been arranged,and the participations in coastal blockade operations in Cheju island and the suppression operations at Yosu and Sunchon were carried out harvesting great victories with real experiences acquired in the battle.

Meanwhile, the Marine Corps, founded at Doksan airfield in Chinhae on April 15, 1949, achieved brilliant war successes at the suppression operations against the communist guerrillas in Chinju and Cheju, and thereby its name has become widely known in the nation.

The Korean War Period
(June 25, 1950 - July 27, 1953)

The Navy, without being prepared for the war, was brought under surprise attack by the overall aggression of the North Korean People's Army. In spite of inferiority in numbers of the armed forces and materiel at the outbreak of war, the Navy proceeded to overpower the enemy all over the seas of the East, the West, and the South.

Following up the victories of the naval battles at the early stages of war at Okgye and the Korea Straits, the Navy took the command of the sea in the south of the 38th parallel. Led by the Inchon Landing Operations as its occasion, the Navy secured the whole command of the seas along the Korean Peninsula. While neutralizing the Military installations of the enemy through the coastal blockade operations and ship gun firing, the Navy launched offensives against the North Korea through covering operations at Wonsan and Hmhung, a volunteer corps covering operations at Ongjin and Yeonbaek, securing operations of the strategic islands, and mine sweeping operations.

As the ground troops were withdrawing due to the intervention of Chinese Communists troops, the Navy played an important role in every type of withdrawal operations moving the refugees wishing for freedom as well as military forces and logistics at the East Sea and the West Sea. In addition, the Navy organized the land battle units mainly consisted of ground service troops on land in cooperation with ships. They occupied supply routes and conducted various ground operations. In particular, they won a brilliant success in the battle by participating in the Pohang retaking operation in which friendly forces won a great victory there since the outbreak of the war.

The Marine Corps has recorded the mighty Impression of "Ghost Buster Marine Corps" and "an invincible Marine Corps" in war history of Korea through winning the battles of Tongyong landing operation, Jindongri area, Inchon Landing Operation, Mt. Dosol Combat, and at such places as Kim Il-Sung hill and Mao hill.

Maintenance period After the War
(July 28, 1953 - March 3, 1965)

After the three-tear-long fratricidal war was over with signing of the cease fire agreement on July 27, 1953, the Korea Navy has begun to consolidate the foundation for the victorious Navy by overcoming the ordeal of the war.

The Navy Headquarters that had moved with the Government to Pusan returned to Seoul and modified its organization. On september 1, 1960, the Headquarters moved into moved into the new building at Taebang-dong, Seoul. While conduction maintenance and repair for the organization of the fleet and naval forces by establishing and reorganizing the Korea fleet, the Navy augmented to the landing forces.

Additionally, the Navy exerted its efforts to train human resources who would lead the Navy in future. It strengthened the functions of the support units by establishing shipbuilding depots, supply depots, medical groups, and naval hospitals.

Furthermore, the Navy widely informed to the allied nations of its mighty shape by commencing the cruise training for the 9th class of Naval cadets in 1954, that was intended to upgrade the quality of naval officers and to promote military diplomacy.

In the meantime, the Navy took over the maritime operational control from the United Nations Forces Command beginning March 1955, thereby assuming the defense independently for the entire Korean territorial waters. After the Navy went through the era of escort destroyers and fast transport ships as a means of securing maritime power, its power was greatly enhanced again in 1963 by introducing destroyers.

Build-up of War Potential Period
(March 4, 1965 - February 24, 1974)

In order to introduce many more warships with limited military resources and budget, ROKN fixed and recommissioned the ships taken up from U.S. fleet in reserve. On April of 1968, ROKN bought 2nd destroyer from the U.S. navy. After that ROKN bought 5 more destroyer until 1973.

On October of 1971, ROKN introduced PGMs and used the ships for patrolling and blocking operation. On November of 1972, ROKN had the christening ceremony of ROKS 'HAKSAENG' which was built by domestic technology. It was our first Korea-made PK which was built by 8 million students 2 hundred thousand teachers' defense donation. And Then on May of 1973, ROKN established the fleet-air squadron.

In the meantime, the Marine Corps was merged, in accordance with the functional reorganization of the military structure, to the Navy on October 10, 1973. Therefore, the Navy became to equip with enormous combat powers by holding the air unit that is capable of exercising modernized maritime powers and air operations together with the elite Marine Corps that is the mobile striking forces in landing operations.

The Navy conducted public information activities in the remote islets since September 1, 1969, thereby contributing greatly to the national solidarity by strengthening civil-military ties and also raised the image of the Navy as the people's military who give trust for love from the people.

Constructing Foundation for Self-Reliance National Defense
( February 25, 1974 - May 25, 1993)

The Navy has become to hold the mighty combat power to suppress and destroy the enemy's marital provocations by reorganizing the force structure that is centered around the main pillar of domestic-made war ships financed by defense taxes beginning in 1975 and by equipping ultra-modern marital weapons systems such as anti-submarine patrol aircraft, ship-based helicopters, and various missiles in other words a favorite child in the modern warfare.

The two times of test firings of the shop-to ship missiles in August 1975 were successfully carried out by domestic-made fast boat, thereby inspiring the Navy with confidence and pride in self-reliance national defense. Following the first construction and launch of a frigate by domestic technologies, Korea showed off the self-reliance national defense intentions and capabilities by domestically constructing and commissioning a series of frigates, patrol boats and fast boats.

Further, the Navy have maintained its maximum combat readiness by taking such steps as the rational reorganization of the force structure, research and development of the military tactics and doctrines, and efficient innovation of the logistics managements functions. In the Meantime, the Navy Maintains perfect maritime defense structure through the various maritime exercises such as antisubmarine operation exercises, and rescue exercises.

Additionally, the Navy further concreted its ties with navies of the friendly nations by participating in various combined exercises including Team Spirits Exercises. Particularly to be noted is that the Navy is acquiring new tactics while enhancing the status of the Korea Navy by participating for the first time in the 1990 RIMPAC Exercise, held biennially to promote close cooperations among countries along the pacific.

The Beginning Period for the Advanced Navy
(May 26, 1993 - )

Owing to the force development projects for the self-reliance of the national defense promoted since 1974, Korean indigenous ships such as fast boat, fast ship, and patrol boat, that are suitable to the defense of the Korean coastal area, have been constructed for the combat power, resulting in strengthening the coastal defense capability. In 1981, the Navy has become to carry out smoothly the operations in the offshore by commissioning home-made frigate. Since the introduction of ROKS CHANG BO-GO in 1992, a mass production system in country for submarines has been furnished, and additionally in 1995, P-3C ultra-modern maritime patrol aircraft was introduced. In 1998, ROKN introduced Korea-made destroyer, KWANGGETO GREAT.

However, in order to positively cope with changes in the maritime security environment around the Korean Peninsula, affected by the strengthening of naval powers in the neighbor countries of Northeast Asia, and to consolidate one step further the nation's status as a central state in the upcoming Asia-Pacific era, a change from the coastal navy to the Blue Water navy is required.



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