South Korea will launch a new 2,800-ton frigate named after Cheonan, the Pohang-class warship torpedoed by the North over a decade ago.
The launching ceremony for the seventh Daegu-class Cheonan will take place on Tuesday at the shipyard of Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. in Ulsan, some 410km southeast of Seoul.
The ship was built as part of the Navy’s FFX Batch-II program under which it wants to procure eight vessels to replace old 1,500-ton frigates and 1,000-ton corvettes. It is equipped with a 20-mm Phalanx close-in weapon system, anti-ship and ship-to-ground guided missiles, and underwater missiles, as well as hull mounted and towed array sonar systems.
The frigate is expected to be delivered to the Navy in 2023 and put into service the following year.
In March 2010, a 1,200-ton Cheonan corvette carrying 104 personnel sank near the Northern Limit Line, a de facto western inter-Korean sea border after a North Korean midget submarine fired a torpedo at it. The incident left 46 seamen dead.
The unveiling of the Cheonan carried a symbolic meaning for the survivors of the attack and bereaved families who have wished to see the new warship named after the ill-fated corvette and commissioned to fulfill its unfinished mission of safeguarding the maritime border, Yonhap News Agency reported.
Striking a sour note, Choi Won-il, the captain of the corvette at the time of the sinking, said he would not attend the event in protest over the state-run communications standards panel's recent decision not to take issue with social media video clips raising conspiracy theories behind the cause of the sinking.