Korea is considering deploying new frigates near Dokdo to strengthen its sovereign control of the easternmost islets, after Japan has renewed its territorial claim to the East Sea volcanic outcroppings, a government source here said Tuesday.
The South's Navy is scheduled to receive a first batch of 2,300-2,500 ton frigates next year under a naval buildup project code-named "FFX." By 2018, a total of 20 new frigates will be put into service for anti-air and anti-submarine duties.
Seoul's government plans to expand port facilities on Ulleung Island near Dokdo to accommodate 5,000-ton ships, and the new frigates would be able to use the revamped port as a home base, the source said on the condition of anonymity.
"We are reviewing a plan to deploy the FFX frigates to Ulleung Island when the planned expansion of the port is completed," the source said.
"In the wake of Japan's renewed claim to Dokdo, the waters of Ulleung Island and Dokdo could be threatened," the source said. "As security threats in the East Sea take shape, there is a need to deploy the new frigates to Ulleung Island."
Tension between South Korea and Japan resurfaced early this month after Japan's Cabinet approved the "Diplomatic Blue Paper" report for 2011 with claims to the islets and its education ministry approved a series of school textbooks claiming the islets as its territory.
Since 1954, South Korea has stationed a small police detachment on Dokdo.(Yonhap)