A keel-laying ceremony was held on 28 April for South Korea's second Dokdo-class landing platform helicopter (LPH). Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction (HHIC) is constructing the 14,500t vessel in Busan.
The new LPH, expected to launch in April 2018 as ROKS Marado, will measure 199.4m in length and 31m in beam. These dimensions confirm the ship is the same size as ROKS Dokdo, although the design will feature improvements based on first-of-class experience.
According to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), delivery to the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) is slated for 2020.
DAPA signed a $380 million contract with HHIC for construction of this LPH on 23 December 2014. The shipbuilder completed a technical design review in March 2016 and the first steel was cut last November.
A graphic released by DAPA showed landing spaces for five aircraft on the flat-top's flight deck. Interestingly, the image showed Bell Boeing V-22 Ospreys aboard the ship, even though there has been no formal announcement that South Korea is interested in the tiltrotor. One anticipated improvement is the ability to accommodate Ospreys on a reinforced flight deck and enlarged hangar bay.
As well as up to ten helicopters, the LPH can carry 700 troops, a mix of armoured and tactical vehicles, plus landing craft/hovercraft in a stern well deck.
The class is ideal for amphibious assaults by the ROK Marine Corps, in addition to disaster relief missions.
It has been nearly a decade since ROKS Dokdo was commissioned in July 2007. This represents quite a gap in building the second helicopter carrier, especially when the original intention was to field three ships in the class. Financial constrictions are one of the main reasons for the delay.
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