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(such as batteries, diesels, generators, towed
arrays, and emergency propulsion) which by and
large have been known about for many years. We
currently have two submarines laid up at ASC for
a total of nine years.
The DMO has Collins at pole position on
its list of Projects of Concern. It appointed
a 3 star equivalent, Mr Kim Gillis, in 2009 to
rehabilitate the Collins Class. He had a massive
task ahead of him. Kim quickly moved on to
greener pastures. In his wake we have seen the
appointment of Air Vice-Marshall Deeble as the
Program Manager Collins (and Wedgetail) who
has initiated “stabilise, rebalance and continuous
improvement” activities for the submarines. We
have also seen the commissioning of a substantial
review by John Coles, the output of which will
feed into a “Collins Reform Program” and on
May 3 the problem was re-assigned to a three
star civilian, Mr David Gould, General Manager
Submarines. There are many who think that the
magnitude of the problem is simply beyond all
of this manoeuvring. Overheard in the halls of
Parliament was an eloquent description of the
situation as: “it’s a revolving door of people and
REPUBLIC OF KOREA NAVY SUBMARINE
The Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) submarine
project office also kicked off in 1982. It was an
embryonic event. The procurement program was
postponed in 1984 but recommenced in 1986.
The South Koreans were steadfast in their desire
to have a proven submarine design. The focus
of their negotiation with the three contenders
(Type 209, Agosta, Sauro) was performance,
price, technology transfer, military assistance
and education & training. The Type 209 was
eventually chosen with the first to be built by
HDW in Germany (with Defence and shipbuilding
personnel sent to Germany to participate in the
build) and the remaining 8 to be built in batches
by the longstanding Daewoo shipyard in Korea.
In October 1992, Korea became the 43rd
nation to join the submarine community.
Since then South Korea and its Navy have
demonstrated an outstanding capability with
respect to submarine force construction,
sustainment and operation.
In international exercises such as RIMPAC
and Tandem Thrust, ROKN Type 209 submarines
have demonstrated superiority in the detecting
and attacking of powerful “enemies”.
In 1998 the ROKS LEE JONGMOO participated
in RIMPAC (as did HMAS ONSLOW ). It sunk
13 warships (150,000 tons) and was the only
submarine to survive until the end of the exercise.
ROKS PARK WI participated in RIMPAC
2000 (HMAS WALLER participated also, with
great success). Considering the 1998 RIMPAC
achievements, “enemy” forces kept a close watch
on PARK WI, making it a top priority for sinking
during the exercise. However, she sank 11 enemy
ships (96,000 tons) and, again, survived to the
end of the exercise without being detected once
by enemy forces. Admiral “Big Al” Konetzni,
COMSUBPAC at the time, publicly praised the
performance of the ROKN submarine.
In 2002 ROKS NA DAEYONG participated in
RIMPAC (as did HMAS SHEEAN). It sank 10
enemy ships (100,000 tons) and, matching the
trend, survived to the end of the exercise.
In 2004 it was ROKS CHANG BOGO’s turn to
take part in RIMPAC (as did HMAS RANKIN).
It successfully launched a total of 40 simulated
torpedoes against 15 surface ships, including the
nuclear aircraft carrier, USS JOHN C STENNIS,
and her accompanying escorts. It survived until
the end of the exercise without being counter
detected and without mechanical issue.
ROKN submarine performance at these
exercises has invited keen attention.
The ROKN have moved on to their next
program, with three of a planned force of nine
Type 214 submarines now commissioned. They
have not looked backwards. Their submarine
force doesn’t have any issues with respect to
operating with the United States Navy, which they
do on a more regular basis than our submarines.
RADM Doug McAneny said in 2009, “The
Koreans are very strong allies in the region. They
are frequent participants in many of the multi-
lateral and bi-lateral exercises we do in the region
and we do sub on sub work with them as well”.
FIGHT IN THE DOG
Mark Twain once said ... It’s not about the size of
the dog in the fight, it’s about the size of the fight
in the dog.
It is clear that the ROKN submarine program
has been highly successful. The ROKN have been
involved in numerous exercises and operations
over the past few years from Australia, to Hawaii
and beyond – and done very well. They have
boats with proven capability, which they are
comfortable putting in harm’s way, with
courageous, motivated, and well led professional
Two years ago South Korean deployed ROKS
Lee Eokgi to Hawaii for RIMPAC, at the same
time, no doubt, as supporting more up-tempo
ASW exercises in home waters. Australia, for the
first time in decades, could not even muster a
submarine to send to war.
At a time when South Korea was on a war
footing, they managed to send a submarine to
RIMPAC, while we were struggling to keep our
boats at sea. We were at the nadir of submarine
availability. If we had been called upon to assist
operations in and around Korea, it is unlikely that
we could have done so at that time.
Now, with the comparison above in mind, we
move to the lessons of Collins.
HMAS Collins coming to anchor near Pulau Tioman.
Republic of Korea Navy Chang Bogo-class submarine ROKS Lee Eokgi (SS 071)
Credit: USN / N. Brett Morton
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