Vietnam begins work on first submarine rescue vessel

Vietnam’s state-owned Z189 shipyard has begun assembly work on the first submarine rescue vessel for the People’s Army of Vietnam Navy (PAVN).

A keel-laying ceremony for the ship, known as MSSARS 9316 (multipurpose submarine search-and-rescue ship 9316), was held on 24 May at Z189’s facilities in the northern coastal city of Haiphong, said the shipyard in a statement.

The 93 m-long and 16 m-wide vessel, will have a displacement of 4,000 tons and feature a helipad as well as a “robust dynamic positioning system and various other features” to make sure the ship can function unhindered in harsh weather conditions, such 9–12 force winds and waves as high as 14 m, according to a report by the Viet Nam News website.

Aside from its main role as a submarine rescue vessel, MSSARS 9316 will also be capable of conducting underwater surveying, seafloor mapping, and will serve as an ocean research vessel, said the report, adding that the construction of the ship is expected to take 27 months.

According to the report, Z189 is building MSSARS 9316 in co-operation with Dutch shipbuilder Damen Shipyards.

The latest development comes after the PAVN commissioned in late February 2017 the last two of six Project 636 ‘Kilo’-class diesel-electric attack submarines (SSKs) Vietnam ordered from Russia: a move that marked the culmination of a nearly 20-year effort to transform the PAVN into a service with subsurface capabilities.

According to Jane’s World Navies , Hanoi signed a deal with Moscow in 2009 to acquire the six SSKs in a bid to provide a substantial boost to PAVN’s ability to patrol the South China Sea.