Just recently, on June 28, 2021, the South Korean Navy officially put into operation its second Dokdo-class amphibious assault ship.
The addition of one more Dokdo-class amphibious assault ship into operation, promises to significantly increase the strength of the Republic of Korea Navy, especially in offshore warfare, or participating in joint exercises abroad. The lead ship of this class, the ROKS Dokdo, was launched in 2005, and has been in service with the Republic of Korea Navy since 2007.
The ROKS Marado itself was also expected to enter service before 2010, but construction was then delayed as Seoul did not perceive foreign concerns at the time. In addition, South Korean media emphasized that the global economic crisis in 2008, had a significant influence on the decision to indefinitely delay the completion of the Marado.
According to the South Korean Navy, the Marado amphibious assault ship has a length of 199 meters, a beam of 31 meters, and a maximum displacement of up to 19,000 tons. The ship has a full crew of 330 people, along with an extremely respectable transport capacity, serving large-scale amphibious assaults.
Specifically, the ROKS Marado is capable of carrying up to 720 marines, 7 amphibious armored vehicles, 2 hovercraft and 12 helicopters of all kinds. In addition, this amphibious assault ship is also equipped with 16 surface-to-air missile launchers, 2 Phalanx CIWS systems for close-range defense. Electronic warfare and decoys include: SLQ-200K SONATA Electronic Warfare System, and new generation decoys (SEALEM and SEALIR) by Lacroix
Compared to ROKS Dokdo, ROKS Marado benefits from significantly improved anti-air and flight systems. ROKS Marado flight deck can accommodate the V-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft. The flight control tower’s design was changed and its location moved from the front to the rear of the island. Marado features an improved anti-air radar too: It is the fixed EL/M-2248 MF-STAR AESA multifunction surveillance radar produced by Israeli company Elta Systems, which substituted the previous SMART-L multibeam radar by Thales.
The ROKN will officially deploy LPH Marado after a series of Initial Operational Capability tests for its crews from July to December this year. According to the plan, the South Korean Navy will have a total of 3 Dokdo-class ships to enhance the amphibious assault capabilities of this force. The third ship, it is not yet clear when will be completed and officially launched.