South Korea Conducts Major Anti-Submarine Exercise

South Korea conducts major anti-submarine exercise

By Christopher Szabo.
   
Seoul – The South Korean Navy has begun a major anti-submarine exercise, with 10 warships testing depth charges and naval guns. The one-day exercise off the west coast town of Taen is part of heightened military preparedness in the country.
The BBC said satellite surveillance of the North as well as spy plane missions had also been increased. More naval drills will take place, and the US and South Korea are expected to carry out joint exercises soon. The warships in Thursday’s exercise include a 3,500-ton destroyer. Popular Mechanics and the anti-submarine exercise is part of a shake-up of both South Korean and American training. This follows a report by the South Korean news agency Yonhap of North Korean mini-submarines which had disappeared from their east coast base at Chaho after conducting exercises.(A photo of a captured North Korean mini-sub can be seen here.) An unnamed military official said:

We are tracking the four submarines by mobilizing all naval capabilities in the East Sea.

Popular Mechanics reports the Pentagon has announced it will increase its anti-submarine training. Spokesman Bryan Whitman said the decision is:

A result of the findings of this recent incident.

The article says simulator training is not enough for successful submarine hunting and that the US Navy, and likely the South Korean Navy, have lost many skills acquired during the Cold War. An operations professor at the US Naval War College, Milan Vego added:

The skills for successful conduct of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) must be maintained; otherwise, they will quickly atrophy.

Vego had warned in a recent article in the Armed Forces Journal:

The emerging threats … are mini-submarines, swimmer-delivery vehicles, remotely operated vehicles and autonomous underwater vehicles.

Analysts say the torpedo blamed for sinking the South Korean Navy patrol ship, Cheonan, was fired from a mini-submarine. South Korean Lieutenant General Park Jung-e said:

Our plan is to reinforce submarine measures by establishing a submarine detection system in areas that are vulnerable.

The anti-submarine exercise comes amid diplomatic efforts to punish North Korea, but have foundered on China’s refusal to join the United States and South Korea in condemning the North’s actions. Following an international team’s finding that a North Korean torpedo sank Cheonan in March, South Korea and the US are demanding a UN resolution condemning the country. North Korea, however, rejects claims that it was responsible for the incident.

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