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Korea to Unveil Unmanned Explorer Sub

Posted May. 03, 2006 03:00,   


Korea is the fourth country to develop an unmanned submarine that can probe up to 6,000 meters underwater, and is now actively pursuing exploration activities.

The Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) announced on Tuesday that it will hold a launching ceremony of the unmanned submarine “Haemirae” attended by Vice Minister Kang Moo-hyun and about a hundred others at the South Sea Institute of the Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute (KORDI) in Jangmok-myeon, Geoje City, Gyeongnam Province.

The MMAF and KORDI have spent 12 billion won since 2001 on the submarine and have finished developing and testing Haemirae and the launching mechanism, “Haenubi.”

Korea is the fourth country with the technology to manufacture submarine probes that can reach 6,000 meters underwater, after the U.S., Japan, and France.

Haemirae, which weighs 3,700 kilograms, uses six electromotion-propellers to move backwards and forwards, left and right, and up and down at 1.0 to 1.5 knots (1 knot equals 1,852 meters per hour).

The Ultra-Short Baseline (USBL) attached to the submarine allows it to locate objects with about five-meter accuracy, and its two oil hydraulic robot arms let it collect samples underwater.

The ministry is planning underwater probes in the deep oceans of the Pacific Ocean and areas near Dokdo from the second half of this year.

Commercialization of the submarine body and robot manufacturing technology, its underwater complex maneuvering system, and other technologies derived during the development of Haemirae will take place, and the technology will be sold to domestic and foreign companies.

An MMAF official said that the deep-sea submarine’s worldwide market amounts to one trillion won annually, and that while submarines that can probe 2,500 meters underwater are priced at five to six billion won, this new manufacturing technology allows the submarines to be built at only 60 percent of the cost of foreign products.

Keuk-In Bae bae2150@donga.com