Analyzing the Korean Sea Fight
Some South Korean military experts have reached conclusions on the recent clash between North and South Korean boats that don’t exactly agree with the facts. The article “How S.Korea Beat Back N.Korean Gunboat” is from Chosun.com:
Arms experts and military officers say it was technological superiority that allowed South Korea to send a North Korean patrol boat scuttling back trailing a cloud of smoke across the Northern Limit Line after an incursion Monday.
While there is little doubt the well-off South can build better boats than the impoverished North, read further down and you get a different story (I will be skipping around):
“Four South Korean vessels are said to have focused their attacks on one North Korean patrol boat”
So it appears that numbers, not “technological superiority” reined here. Then there is the fact that 4 more heavily armed SK boats couldn’t sink or even disable a single NK attack ship:
The cannon mounted on the Chamsuri are computer-controlled and capable of delivering accurate fire even when the boats are bobbing on choppy waters. The 40 mm cannon were made by Italian arms manufacturer Breda. The 20 mm Sea Vulcan gun is capable of firing between 2,700 and 3,300 rounds per minute on its targets. In contrast, North Korea’s Shanghai class patrol boats were manufactured in the 1960s and their guns must be fired manually…
The South Korean vessel is believed to have fired between 1,000 to 2,000 rounds at the North Korean patrol boat on Tuesday, which sustained heavy damage but did not sink, while the South Korean vessel was shot around 15 times.
While yours truly is all for having the best equipment, it is disturbing that the wrong conclusions might be given to justify a certain end, with little doubt the South is investing heavily in new Blue Water programs for possible rivalry with China and Japan. Meanwhile, as we see here, the threat of the North isn’t going away or even subsiding:
North Korea vastly outnumbers South Korea in gunboats. But South Korea has the edge when it comes to the size and capability. The South has around 120 battleships and the North around 420, but the North has only three of more than 1,000 tons while the South has 10, including the 7,600-ton Aegis destroyer King Sejong and others in the 3,000 ton or higher class.
What if the numbers have been different, with the North using swarming tactics, taking advantage of their numerical superiority to overwhelm the more technically advanced SK boats? If each NK vessel is as hard to sink as this one from the 1960s, then certainly the SK will have a fight on its hands. As the experts say, don’t get complacent.