Ulsan is a class of multi-purpose missile frigates built for the ROK Navy between 1980 and 1992 with a total of 9, and one in service with the Bangladesh Navy
The ROK Navy is growing rapidly, with a series of new generation warships entering service. Along with that, a large number of old warships will be decommissioned. After the Pohang-class corvettes, the Ulsan-class frigates are the next warships to be retired. This opens up a great opportunity for Korean foreign partners to own these old but still very powerful frigates, especially South East Asian partners such as the Philippines or Vietnam.
Ulsan is a class of multi-purpose missile frigates built for the ROK Navy between 1980 and 1992 with a total of 9, and one in service with the Bangladesh Navy. Currently, there are four ships in active service with the Republic of Korea Navy, while the remaining ships were decommissioned from 2014 to 2019 respectively.
The Ulsan class has three variants: Flight I, with only one ship, followed by Flight II with four ships, and finally Flight III with the final four. These are multi purpose frigates with varied capabilities for ASW, ASUW, and AAW. These are the first frigates designed and built by South Korea, by four different ship builders.
The lead ship of the class, Ulsan FF-951, Flight I package, built by Hyundai Heavy Industries, was launched in April 1980 and commissioned in January 1981. It has a full load displacement of 2,180 tons. Subsequent frigates in the Flight II and Flight III packages have a slightly larger full-load displacement of 2,215 tons. They basically don’t have much difference in size, with a length of 103.7 m, a beam of 12.5 m, and a draft of 3.8 m.
The difference between the early version and the late version is in armament and electronics. The first five ships have 2 OTO Melara 76mm compact guns, 4 Emerson 30mm AA guns, 8 Harpoon SSMs, 6 324mm torpedos, WM-28 fire control radar, DA-05 air search radar. The next 4 ships are generally similar to the Early versions, except they have 3 Breda 40mm AA guns, ST-1802 fire control radar. The different AA gun and the round shaped structure of the mast distingish between the Early and Late versions.
Korea has decommissioned the first five ships of the class, two of which have been used as museum ships at Ulsan and Seoul. Retired ships will most likely be aided by close Korean partners, and most likely the Philippines and Vietnam. Ulsan-class warships with powerful firepower, reliable operation, will be a necessary addition for Korean partners while the regional situation is evolving more and more complicated.