Surface Forces: South Korea Enters The Big Leagues


January 12, 2017: At the end of 2016 South Korea retired the last U.S. built warship in its fleet. This marked the transition of the South Korean navy to a force of ships all built in South Korea. The retired ship was actually a support vessel, a 3,000 ton salvage and rescue ship that entered U.S. service in 1972 as the USS Beaufort (ATS-2). This ship retired from American service in 1996 and was transferred to South Korea, where it served as the Pyeongtaek (ATS-27) for another 20 years. South Korea put two locally designed and built ATS ships into service in 2014 and 2016.

South Korea began designing and building its own warships in the late 1970s. This began with patrol boats and advanced to corvettes and frigates in the 1980s, amphibious ships, submarines and destroyers in the 1990s and after 2000 larger destroyers similar to the American Aegis destroyers. By the 1990s South Korea began to export warships to other Asian nations and that continues to expand.




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