South Korea Launches New High-Spec Submarine Rescue Vessel

Image source: Republic Of Korea Navy
Image source: Republic Of Korea Navy

Published Oct 7, 2021 10:20 PM by The Maritime Executive

South Korea has launched a $400 million submarine rescue vessel capable of responding to distressed submariners in deep waters, even in rough weather.

Dubbed ARS-II (Auxiliary Submarine Rescue Ship), the vessel is capable of rescuing distressed submariners from depths of up to 500 meters. It carries an embarked remotely operated vehicle that can descend up to 1,000 meters below the surface, making it possible to carry out rescue operations in deep waters.

The 5,600-ton-class submarine rescue vessel Ganghwado was launched at the DSME Okpo shipyard in Geoje, Korea, and is scheduled to be delivered to the South Korean navy in mid-2023 after test operations.

“The advanced Ganghwado ship is expected to help ensure the safe operation of our submarines by conducting missions despite unfavorable conditions at sea,” said the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) official Bang Geuk-cheoul, as quoted by Yonhap News Agency.

The vessel will enable the South Korean navy to rescue trapped sailors in submarines, provide naval operation support for submarines, do underwater research and mapping support, and recover sunk vessels.

The new ship can rescue and carry up to 17 individuals at a time, along with 130 crew members. The vessel uses a center well (moon pool) system, making it possible to rescue crews of distressed submarines even when surface wave conditions are as high as 13 feet. 

Currently, the South Korean Navy operates a smaller, 3,200-ton submarine rescue ship, the Cheonghaejin. It was commissioned in 1995 and can only operate in waves of up to about six feet.