South Korean firm offers newest submarines to Philippine Navy
MANILA, Philippines — South Korean shipbuilder Hanwha Ocean has stepped up a bid to build a pair of submarines for the Philippine Navy, to match the proposals of shipbuilding giants from France and Spain as they vie for the multibillion- peso acquisition project.
Executives from Hanwha Ocean were in Manila last week to formally pitch its newest 2,800-ton Jang Bogo-III submarines to the Philippine Navy for its updated proposal.
The 77-meter diesel-electric submarines with an overall beam of 9.7 meters are equipped with the latest propulsion system and lithium-ion battery technology that could ensure the Philippines’ enhanced defense capability to safeguard its sovereign and strategic maritime interests, Hanwha Ocean vice president Steve SK Jeong said in a press briefing in Manila.
Jeong added that the two-boat submarine offer—which intended to meet the Philippine Navy’s P97-billion budget—is part of a submarine force package that includes training, technology transfer, safety and integrated logistics support, simulators and a maintenance yard in Subic Bay “or anywhere the Navy wants them.”
The government-to-government deal involves a long-term loan with a delivery in seven years once a deal is signed.
The Jang Bogo-III submarines are currently operated by the Republic of Korean Navy for a two-year period.
The vessels are each armed with six torpedo tubes that are also capable of firing antiship missile, have a submerged speed of 21 knots and can handle up to 41 personnel.
In addition, the submarines are equipped with an air independent propulsion system, allowing these vessels extended endurance and range underwater. However, this capability is still subject to negotiation depending on Philippine Navy requirements.
Information from a Hanwha Ocean handout said the lithium ion battery has a shorter charging time and would allow six days of operations without battery charging. The offered submarines also boast shorter maintenance periods compared to the models offered by rivals.
The Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME), before it was rebranded to Hanwha Ocean earlier this year, previously offered its 1,400-ton submarines to the Philippine Navy. It has been building submarines since the 1980s.
‘Wise to prepare’
Jeong, a retired Korean Navy vice admiral, said acquiring submarines was a “more economical choice” in the long term.
“Some people say buying, building a submarine force is expensive. It looks like we’re putting in more money the first time but in the long run it is a lot cheaper than building surface force,” he said.
The South China Sea, he said, is “the most problematic area in the world right now,” calling for a need for enhanced intelligence gathering and deterrence. “It’s wise to prepare for your country’s security,” he added.
Besides Hanwha Ocean, France’s Naval Group and Spain’s Navantia are also offering submarines to the Philippine Navy.