The 209 submarine class is designed to destroy hostile submarines, surface ships, protect friendly naval bases, sea shores communications, and carry out reconnaissance missions. The Type 1200 as a member of the Class 209 ensures reliable early detection of hostile warships, including low-noise submarines, owing to a high effective sonar system and low noise feature of the submarine.
With a full submerged displacement of 1200 tons, they are able to dive 250m (850 ft). They are equipped with four MTU diesel engines, providing a maximum speed 21 knots (submerged) and 11 knots (surfaced). They carry eight 533mm/21inch torpedo tubes at the bow, and are armed with 14 torpedoes or 28 mines. This class has plans to update their capaabilities through equiping with a passive towed array sonar. The last three units are armed with Harpoon SSM launching system.
The high energy content in its big battery gives the commanding officer tactical advantages and options. The workload of the crew is considerably reduced by the modern integrated electronic combat system operated via multipurpose consoles, which combine the sonar, navigation information and weapons systems. The incorporation of new equipment or a different weapon system automatically leads to configuration changes elsewhere in the submarine, as the changes imply different space requirements, altered electrical power supplies, other cooling facilities, etc.
The propulsion system was initially equipped with suction diesel engines, but later the transition to supercharged engines was completed and notably increased performance values. With the active assistance of the two already mentioned major battery manufacturers, battery quality was improved in both low and high power areas, retaining good results in submerged range and maximum speed, in spite of the increased size of the submarines.
The diesel-based submarine can navigate at 22 knots (44km) of maximum underwater speed, and 2-month solo operation is possible with 40 members of crew and staff. As it is loaded with detection equipment and battle system, and sub-Harpoons, its war-fighting capabilities are outstanding. The submarines are successfully performing their operations, not detected by enemy submarines in joint operations with the U.S., Australia, Japan and other nations in RIMPAC training, demonstrating its excellence.
Daewoo Shipbuilding enjoyed a virtual monopoly in the nation's submarine industry until early 1999. It built nine 1,200 ton-class submarines in a technical tie-up with HDW since 1991 under the ministry's 10-year submarine project, called "KAA-I."
The Changbogo class submarines are Diesel/Electric propulsion submarines, built under license in South Korea, based on German Type 209-1200. ROKS Changbogo(SS-61), the first ship of this class, was launched on June 1992 by HDW at Kiel in Germany and commissioned on June 1993. The remainder were assembled at Okpo by DAEWOO from material packages transported from Germany. The second and subsequent boats were built by Daewoo Heavy Industries Co. at Koje island, South Korea. ROKS Leesunsin (SS-68), the 7th ship launched on 21 May 1998.
Changbogo class ships were named after a historical Generals' name who related with sea. The lead unit is named after Chang Bo-go [Changbogo], the the admiral of Koryo a 1,000 years ago, who created a maritime Kingdom around Wando, an island situated on the southern tip of the Korean peninsula. Changbogo was a General at the Unified Kindom of Shilla who secured the command of the seaway that linked China, Korea and Japan. Apparently there are intended gaps in the numbering of this class, since there is no SS 064 or SS 070. Number 4 and 0 are reportedly not used by the ROK Navy because they are considered unlucky as these numbers have the same sound as the Korean-read Chinese character meaning death. This numerical nomenclature case is similarly applied to all other military branches as, for example, there is no division number containing the number 4 and so on.
A Korean-built SS-209 class submarine, Lee Chun-ham, participated in Naval Exercise Tandem Thrust conducted in late March 1999 in the vicinity of Guam. The Republic of Korea Navy had asked CINCPACFLT to provide FMS support for the Korean submarine to fire a submarine-launched torpedo at the target ship ex-USS Oklahoma City (a 10,600-ton cruiser). The multi-national participants were also intended to fire a total of 11 Harpoon anti-ship missiles at this target. The Harpoons were to have been fired first, then an FMS-provided transponder was to be installed aboard the ex-USS Oklahoma City or the Korean submarine to launch its torpedo attack. Unfortunately, on exercise day it was impossible to clear the range of commercial shipping necessary to safely conduct the multiple Harpoon attacks, and no Harpoons were fired. The Republic of Korea Navy thus got a rare opportunity to conduct a submarine attack against an undamaged cruiser-sized target. The Korean SS-209 did not disappoint. In firing a single torpedo against the target, a direct hit was made, the target broke into two pieces, and sank in 15 minutes. Well done to CINCPACFLT (N403) for providing the necessary torpedo transponder on very short notice, and well done to the Korean Navy on its highly successful, first ever submarine attack.
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