The South Korean navy may be expanding its strategy to encompass maritime security in the Arctic, an analysis of Seoul’s military strategy shows.
Seoul Economic Daily reported Friday the South Korean navy is looking to build a fleet of ships that could be readily deployed to the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea, near eastern Siberia and the Kamchatka Peninsula.
These and other plans are outlined in Seoul’s “Naval Vision 2045,” a reference to the year when the country’s navy would mark the 100th anniversary of its founding, according to the report.
South Korea’s Arctic strategy is not to secure any maritime claims or borders, but to protect emerging new trade routes in a new Arctic Frontier, the report states.
The Guardian reported in January that climate change has pushed countries like Russia and Norway to strengthen bases in the high Arctic. U.S. Arctic strategy has also called for adaptation to changing circumstances.
In Asia, China and Japan have been positioning themselves to not be excluded for developments in the Arctic. South Korea has not deployed a self-developed frigate since 1992, but its navy has expanded dramatically in the past 26 years, adding domestically developed submarines and destroyers.
A new South Korea destroyer, the KDDX, is to be built. When work on a Batch II, Ulsan-class frigate is completed, building is to begin on a Batch III warship. A Batch IV warship, designed for operations in “distant seas,” is part of plans, the report states.
South Korea’s navy is also expanding combined training operations overseas.
Local paper Chosun Ilbo reported Friday the navy agreed to take part in Exercise Cobra Gold 2019 in Thailand, joining forces from the United States, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Japan and China.
More than 6,600 troops will be in participation in February, according to the report.