With unpredictable neighbor North Korea to its north and defense powerhouse China to its West, it behooves the nation of South Korea to invest heavily in a viable naval service to function alongside its land and air branches. As such, various warship and submarine classes have been inducted into service over the decades and, throughout the mid and late 1990s, the Gwanggaeto the Great-class destroyers were introduced with the group numbering three and led by ROKS Gwanggaeto (DDH-971) itself. In time, ROKS Eulji Mundeok (DDH-972) and ROKS Yang Manchun (DDH-973) came online and all of the warships were constructed by Daewoo Heavy Industries. Each maintains an active status in the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy (2017).
Despite their official destroyer classification, the group can also be considered as frigates due to displacement, size and capabilities.
ROKS Gwanggaeto the Great was formed as part of the South Korean Navy "KDX" initiative which seeks to provide the ROK Navy with a deep water / ocean-going force - a move away from a primarily coastal-minded naval force. This meant a warship design with good sea-keeping capabilities and range as well as armament and sensor systems capable of engaging multiple targets Beyond-Visual-Range (BVR). The new destroyers have begun to fill their portion of the requirement with as many as twelve total ships planned for the group.
ROKS Gwanggaeto the Great displaces 3,825 tons under full load. She features an overall length of 444.6 feet with a beam of 46.6 feet and a draught down to 13.8 feet. Internally there is a crew of 286 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.
Propulsion is by way of a COmbined Diesel And Gas (CODAG) arrangement which sees 2 x Ssang Yong Motor Company 20V956 TB82 diesel units paired with 2 x General Electric LM2500-30 marine gas turbines. These engines are tied to a pair of shafts under stern that provide for speeds reaching up to 30 knots. The combination arrangement allows the operator to switch from gas to diesel and back to accomplish the actions of dash and cruising - and effective fuel-saving system for modern warships. Operational ranges are out to 4,500 nautical miles.
The warship's profile sees a single deck gun at the forecastle with an imbedded bank of missiles ahead of the bridge superstructure. Atop the superstructure is the communications and sensors system with some of the installations set about a lattice-style main mast. Aft of the main superstructure is a split "Y-style" smoke funnel exhausting the propulsion scheme. Aft of this is the secondary superstructure (containing the hangar) and helipad.
Conventional armament is 1 x 5" /54 caliber 127mm OTO-Melara deck gun (turreted) and 2 x Signaal "Goalkeeper" 30mm Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWSs). The missile focus of the warship is apparent as the Mk 48 Mod 2 Vertical Launch System (VLS) ahead of the bridge houses 16 x RIM-7P "Sea Sparrow" surface-to-air missiles. Beyond this are a pair of quadruple launchers for the Harpoon anti-ship missile. The warship is also outfitted with 2 x 324mm (12.8") triple torpedo tubes to deal with surface and undersea threats (Mark 46 torpedo support).
The AN/SPS-49(V) 2D air-search radar heads the list of advanced processing systems that give the vessel vision beyond the horizon. This is in addition to the Signaal MV08 surface-search and Daewoo SPS-95K navigation radar fits. Signaal also provides its STIR 180 series Fire Control System (FCS) radars. The SLQ-25 "Nixie" system is a towed decoy for incoming torpedoes and the ATLAS DSQS-21BZ forms the hull-mounted sonar system. 4 x CSEE DAGAIE MK 2 is an installed chaff launcher. All this works in conjunction with the armament systems aboard the ship as well as the helicopters which provide even greater coverage for the warship.
ROKS Gwanggaeto the Great was launched on October 28th, 1996 and formally commissioned on July 24th, 1998. She remains in active service alongside her two sisters (2017).
Status Commissioned, in Active Service
Complement 286 Personnel
Ship Class [ Gwanggaeto the Great-class ] Ships-in-Class [ 3 ]Ship Names:ROKS Gwangggaeto the Great (DDH-971); ROKS Eulji Mundeok (DDH-972); ROKS Yang Manchun (DDH-973)
- Blue Water Operations
- Fleet Support
444.6 ft (135.51 m)
Width / Beam:
46.6 ft (14.20 m)
Height / Draught:
13.8 ft (4.21 m)
2 x General Electric LM2500-30 gas turbines with 2 x SsangYong Motor Company 20V 956 TB82 diesel engines driving 2 x shafts.
30 kts (35 mph)
4,519 nm (5,200 miles; 8,369 km)
1 x 127mm (5") /54 caliber OTO-Melara deck gun
1 x 16 Mk 48 Mod 2 Vertical Launching System (VLS) (RIM-7P "Sea Sparrow" Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs)).
2 x "Harpoon" anti-ship missile launchers (quad-launchers).
2 x 30mm Signaal "Goalkeeper" Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWSs).
2 x 324mm (12.8") triple torpedo tubes
2 x Westland Super Lynx Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) navy helicopters.
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