The ROK Navy has received an upgraded Korean destroyer (KDX-I), the Eulji Mundeok (DDG 972).
According to an announcement by South Korea’s defense procurement agency DAPA on December 28, the last three KDX-I destroyers that underwent the first-ever locally-managed capability upgrade was handed over to the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN). A greater share of indigenous technologies now featured on the ships will ensure reduced maintenance times and cost in their third decade of service.
ROKS Eulji Mundeok (DDG-972) is the second ship of the Gwangaetto the Great-class in the Republic of Korea Navy. She is named after Eulji Mundeok. The Gwangaetto the Great-class destroyer upgrade program included the installation of a new towed array sonar system for improved anti-submarine capabilities. A new locally-developed combat system was also installed, and will provide more capabilities compared to the ones previously employed by the destroyers.
The Gwangaetto the Great-class or KDX-I was designed to replace the old destroyers in the ROKN that were transferred from the US Navy in the 1950s and 1960s. ROKS Eulji Mundeok was launched on October 16, 1997 by Daewoo Shipbuilding and commissioned on August 30, 1999.
Mundeok has a full load displacement of about 3,900 tons, a length of 135.5 m and a beam of 14.2 m. She has a crew of 286 sailors and the air arm includes a pair of Westland “Super Lynx” navalized helicopters launched and retrieved from a stern helipad. A full-service hangar provides at-sea repair and maintenance facilities.
The Gwanggaeto the Great class also carries a close-in anti-submarine weapon in the form of the Mark 46 torpedoes, launched from triple torpedo tubes in launcher compartments. A secondary anti-shipping role is supported by the RGM-84 Harpoon surface-to-surface missile, mounted in two quadruple launch tubes at the main deck level between the funnel and the helicopter hangar.
For anti-aircraft self-defense, the Gwanggaeto the Great class carries 16 RIM-7P Sea Sparrow. The Gwanggaeto the Great class also carries two 30mm Goalkeeper to provide a shipboard point-defense against incoming anti-ship missiles and aircraft. The main gun on the forecastle is an OTO Melara 127 gun.
According to the state arms procurement agency, the ship’s upgrade focuses on improving the destroyer’s anti-submarine and other capabilities. This would ensure Mundeok and her sisters are qualified to serve for another decade.