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Hanwha Ocean, HD Hyundai set for showdown at defense exhibition

Shipbuilding rivals vie to boast warship technologies in Busan this week

June 5, 2023 - 14:51 By Kan Hyeong-woo
Headquarters of Hanwha and HD Hyundai (Courtesy of Hanwha and HD Hyundai)

South Korea’s maritime defense industry leaders, Hanwha Ocean and HD Hyundai Heavy Industries, are bracing to face off at the upcoming International Maritime Defense Industry Exhibition, or MADEX 2023, in Busan later this week.

The biannual event will begin its three-day journey at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center on Wednesday. According to the floor plan, the exhibition booths of Hanwha Ocean and HD Hyundai Heavy Industries will be next to each other, located in the center of the event venue. The two companies will be vying to leave a better, long-lasting impression while going head-to-head with their latest battleship technologies on display.

Hanwha Ocean will make its first official debut at the exhibition after the country’s seventh-largest conglomerate Hanwha completed the takeover of Daewoo Shipbuilding and Maritime Engineering last month and rebranded DSME to Hanwha Ocean.

Hanwha Ocean said Monday that it will showcase four types of battleships at the exhibition, including the Ulsan-class Batch III frigate, Korean destroyers known as KDDX and KDDX-S, and an arsenal ship, presenting all of the company’s cutting-edge technology. Hanwha Ocean added that the company also plans to display naval systems such as export-style submarines and unmanned submarines.

With the Defense Acquisition Program Administration poised to accept bidders for a project of building two more Ulsan-class Batch III frigates later this month, Hanwha Ocean said its utmost goal is to win the project.

Hanwha Group is looking to create synergy at this year’s MADEX as the conglomerate’s other defense arms -- Hanwha Aerospace and Hanwha Systems -- are participating in the event along with Hanwha Ocean.

“Hanwha Ocean has led the development of the Korean Navy's ship business with unique technology and is now preparing for a new leap forward in the field of battleships through Hanwha Group's strategic investment,” said a Hanwha Ocean official. “Centered around Hanwha Ocean, Hanwha Group will work to develop battleships that have global competitiveness.”

Image of Hanwha Ocean's booth at the International Maritime Defense Industry Exhibition (Hanwha)

HD Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world’s biggest shipbuilder under the country’s ninth-largest conglomerate HD Hyundai, said Sunday that it will present the model of the next-generation KDDX, which is currently being developed, for the first time at the MADEX 2023. According to HD Hyundai, the battleship has been equipped with the country’s first high-capacity and high-power integrated electric propulsion system as well as an expandable platform that can load future weapons systems.

The shipbuilder will also unveil the figure of the unmanned power control ship for the first time. The control ship is expected to carry out various missions utilizing unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned surface vehicles and unmanned underwater vehicles. HD Hyundai will present the advanced model of a Korean aircraft carrier along with the figure of an offshore patrol vessel developed for export purposes.

“The MADEX 2023 will be a place for showcasing the achievement of our research and development and proposing the new concept of future battleships for the first time,” said an HD Hyundai Heavy Industries official. “With HD Hyundai Heavy Industries’ excellent technology, we will play a leading role in setting up the manned and unmanned complex system being pushed by the Korean Navy and exporting the country’s defense industry.”

According to the event organizer, the MADEX held in 2021 attracted over 10,000 visitors with 110 exhibitors from seven countries. Over 1,800 military personnel attended the biannual event, including 70 Navy delegations from 27 countries.

Image of battleships developed by HD Hyundai Heavy Industries (HD Hyundai)