South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) has launched
the fourth of eight Daegu (FFX-II) Class guided-missile frigates on order for the Republic of Korea Navy. Named Donghae, the 122.1 m-long warship entered the water during a ceremony held on April 29 at HHI's facilities in the southeastern coastal city of Ulsan, and is expected to be handed over to the service in late 2021. The Daegu class is a larger variant of South Korea's six Incheon (FFX-I) Class
ships, the first of which entered service in 2013. The class has an overall beam of 14 m, a standard displacement of 2,800 tonnes, and a full-loaded displacement of 3,650 tonnes. Each FFX-II ship is powered by one Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbine engine and two Leonardo DRS permanent magnet motors driven by MTU 12 V 4000 diesel-generator sets in a combined diesel-electric or gas (CODLOG) configuration. Each of the ships can attain a maximum speed of 30 kt.
South Korea currently owns some of the world’s best and most advanced shipyards. That civilian strength is beginning to create military leverage, and recent years have seen the ROK take several steps toward fielding a true open-ocean, blue water navy. Their new KDX-II destroyers, KDX-III AEGIS destroyers, LPX amphibious assault ships, and KSS-I/KSS-II (U209/U214) submarines will give the nation more clout on the international stage, but what about the home front? North Korea’s gunboats have launched surprise attacks on the ROK Navy twice in the last decade, while its submarines continue to insert commandos in South Korean territory, and committed acts of war by sinking ROKN ships. To the west, Chinese fishing rights are a contentious issue that has led to the murder of a Korean Coast Guard official on the high seas.
Hence the Future Frigate Experimental (FFX) program. It aims to build upon lessons learned from ROK naval shipbuilding programs in the 1980s and 1990s, and replace 37 existing ships with a modern class of upgunned inshore patrol frigates. A contract to build the lead FFX frigate Incheon was issued in December 2008, and South Korea continues to work to define the program, including the forthcoming Batch II design.