South Korea Hates Navy Pick-Up Trucks

The United States had retired its submarines with nuclear-armed missiles by the mid-1960s. The German Navy had shut down its long-range submarines in 1999. The British Navy announced its plans to stop keeping diesel…

South Korea Hates Navy Pick-Up Trucks

The United States had retired its submarines with nuclear-armed missiles by the mid-1960s. The German Navy had shut down its long-range submarines in 1999. The British Navy announced its plans to stop keeping diesel submarines at the end of 2007. Neither the Canadian and Norwegian navies continued the tradition of maintaining atomic-armed submarines, and so South Korea has had its dreams of having atomic-armed nuclear submersibles dreams sadly deferred.

Right now, South Korea needs 14 submarines, but it only has six. The four remaining diesel subs are dangerously close to a lack of sufficient re-fueling fuel.

Nuclear triad

“The key thing is, don’t worry about the number, worry about the quality.”

SSBN or SSBN is nuclear-powered submarines that can both carry nuclear bombs and be ready to attack an adversary’s soil. But only two Russian SSBNs, Nos. 32 and 38, are still in service, with No. 38 having been retired two years ago. America is committed to keeping a fleet of 13 Ohio class submarine weapons, but that fleet is slated to retire after the mid-2020s.

Japan, too, is down to one nuclear-armed submarine.

The remaining third-generation weapons in service are diesel subs. The British Royal Navy, for example, had a single Vanguard-class nuclear-armed attack submarine in service until 2012, when decommissioning and logistical issues put the boat out of commission. The sole German submarine was retired in 2009, and the Swedish navy decommissioned its lone ARA San Diego-class nuclear submarine (CNO-4, from 2002-2008) in 2013.

South Korea needs 14 nuclear-powered subs, and it wants more. The South Korean Navy has ambitions of acquiring its own fleet, starting with SSBNs, as reported by Breaking Defense in 2016. Then there are the “bridge” — or intermediate-range — nuclear submarines that would maintain South Korea’s balance of power with China.

Each SSBN is equipped with a nuclear reactor, but the South Korean Navy has been reluctant to conduct tests on that reactor. For North Korea, a nuclear submarine is much more useful than a single nuclear missile. A nuclear-armed submarine will keep North Korea from both deterring South Korea and striking its territory with their missiles. The United States also has a nuclear submarine in the Pacific called the USS John Paul Jones, and that ship, which is equipped with an advanced diesel reactor, is scheduled to get new weapons later this year.

Leave a Comment