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Bluffer's Guide: North Korean Navy 2007

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posted on Jun, 5 2007 @ 12:09 AM
Bluffer’s guide: North Korean Naval Power 2007

Original artwork and research by Planeman, with lots of help


* Mystery vehicles, emerging technology and speculation

* Ballistic Missile Programme

* North Korean Submarine Fleet

* Infiltration mission

* Conventional naval units

Mystery vehicles, emerging technology and speculation…

The Krivak Frigate

Dimensions: L 124m, W 14m Displacement : 3750t
Armament: Varies but could include anti-ship missiles, medium caliber guns, AAA and SAMs. 21” torpedo tubes are a given.
Aircraft : Helipad and hanger for one medium helicopter such as the Kamov Ka-28 Helix.

North Korea has a single Krivak-III frigate but the circumstances and operational readiness remain something of a mystery. It is astonishing that it doesn’t seen to have caught the eye of military observers given that it is clearly visible on Google Earth (coordinates: 38 43 07N, 125 23 44E).

No export of Krivak frigates from Russia or Ukraine has been reported.

One possibility is that it was obtained from Russia for scrap, although that too is likely to have been reported. The remaining option, that it has been built locally is not impossible but it is somewhat unlikely.

Another confusing aspect is its conspicuous lack of weapons or scars where weapons and minor structures have been that might be expected of a scrapped warship – one explanation is that after the weapons were removed the hull was made storm-proof by patching the holes, but if that is the case the Russians appear to have been somewhat over-thorough as the whole foredeck appears sealed. On the other hand the mounting for the 21” torpedo tubes amidships is clearly visible.

Even if the ship was purchased for scrap it does not appear to being scrapped and it remains probable that the North Koreans intend to bring the ship into service irrespective of the backstory.

“Stealth” SES

Armament: 1 x main gun (57mm?), 30mm AAA
Length: 35 – 40m
Speed: 48kts

North Korea appears to have a Fast Attack Craft with significant radar signature reduction characteristics. That NK possesses stealth technology is not all that surprising since they exported torpedo boats with these features to Iran in about 2002 (Tir and Peykaap classes). But we’ve seen no evidence substantiating that NK operates similar stealthy torpedo boats.

The armament of this craft is not clear, except that there is a medium caliber main gun mounted on the foredeck and a smaller AAA turret on the aft deck. News source estimates are a 56mm gun and a 30mm gun – I’d guess that “56mm” refers to the more conventional 57mm. There is no apparent missile launchers but these could be incorporated into the superstructure to anti-ship missiles can’t be ruled out. The sensor fit appears minimal but then again the radar mast may be retractable as per other NK origin stealth and submersible boats.

The hull is very wide suggesting that it is a multi-hull or even a hovercraft. A key Korean news source describes it as a “hovercraft” but after careful consideration of the photo and satellite evidence I believe it to be a surface effect ship (SES) similar in principle to the infamous Soviet ‘Bora’ class, or for a more modern and stealthy comparison, the Norwegian Skjold class. SES’ are generally very fast which supports the news source’s 90km (48kts) estimate – which is damn fast. In simple terms SES combine a catamaran hull with an air cushion similar to a hovercraft between the hulls – consequently it is understandable that a non-military source may describe it as a hovercraft when translating into English. Indeed North Korea has a large number of hovercraft which it has been producing since 1987, but in this case the absence of a visible external propeller points away from ‘pure’ hovercraft and towards SES.

Evidentual leads:
Google Earth coordinates: 39 09 36N, 127 26 44E
Korean news article appearing to relate to this type (careful re translation):

General description of SES:

Other unidentified SES Fast Attack Craft

In addition to the above type there are at least two similar boats on the West coast clearly visible on Google Earth satellite imagery. The boats do not match any known type.

The hull proportions generally match the above type but are possibly slightly shorter (35m v 38m) and clearly non-stealthy. Although the two West coast boats are very similar to each other they have significant differences suggesting that they are two separate but closely related types.


Dimensions : L 35m, W 12m. Displacement approx 200t
Armament : 2-8 anti-ship missiles (depending on type), 2 AAA (30mm?), 1 medium caliber dual purpose gun (85mm?).

This craft is probably a reasonably capable missile boat of relatively recent construction. Its layout follows typical Russian thinking with the missile tubes beside the bridge firing forward, and a long superstructure extending rearwards almost to the stern.

There appears to be a medium caliber gun on the aft deck but something smaller, probably a 30mm CIWS, at the front of the ship. This arrangement with the ‘main’ gun at the rear is again more typical of Russian missile boat designs than Western ones.

It’s not credible to say with any degree of certainty what the anti-ship missiles are based on the satellite imagery alone but they do appear not unlike the vertically stacked SS-N-22 Moskit (NATO: ‘Sunburn’) supersonic missiles fitted to the Russian Turantul class missile boats. My artist’s impression shows the somewhat less alarming HY-2 type missiles. The HY-2/Styx family of missiles have several different launch tubes associated with them, including one that is generally similar to the typical SS-N-22 launchers.

Evidential leads:
Google Earth coordinates: 38 42 59N, 125 23 04E
Artificial slant-view of craft as per Google Earth:


Dimensions : L 35m, W 12m Displacement approx 200t
Armament : 2-8 anti-ship missiles (depending on type), 1 x medium caliber gun (85mm?) and 1 x AAA (30mm?)

This craft is clearly seen moored alongside the Krivak frigate. It differs from “SES-A” by having a more squared bow, the medium caliber gun at the front not back, and a more separated superstructure. The shadows also suggest that it has a taller and more extensive mast(s).

The anti-ship missiles are not fitted in the satellite imagery but the mountings are clearly visible exactly where you’d expect them to be. Again we can only guess at the missile fit.

Evidential leads:
Google Earth coordinates: 38 43 07N, 125 23 44E

60m Missile Corvette

Dimensions: L 62m, W 7.3m Displacement about 500t
Armament: 2 x AK230 30mm AAA, Anti-Ship missiles (probably 2 x HY-2), crewed AAA (i.e. 14.5mm HMG).

Found on Google Earth and not referenced elsewhere, this craft appears a modification of the SARIWON class corvette, itself an evolution of the pre-WWII Soviet Tral class minesweeper.

Main differences to Sariwon are smaller gun placements with the rear one further aft. Also the shadows reveal large missile bin shaped objects just behind the bridge mounted relatively high up.

Evidential leads:
Google Earth coordinates: 39 19 01 E, 127 24 07 E (screen shot

KN-01 Anti-Ship Missile

An improved version of the Russian SS-N-1 “Styx” missile, or the essentially similar Chinese supplied HY-2 (“Silkworm”) missile, no pictures of the KN-01 is available. What is known is that the range is far greater than the Styx/Silkworm implying a turbojet engine in place of the original rocket motor. Range is in excess of 100km (about 60 miles).

Development of improved longer range Styx goes back over 15 years with test firings reported in the mid 1990s. But the recent test firing last month (May 07) suggests that it is not yet in full scale service.

Also, reports indicate shore battery use with no mention of shipboard use – although the latter is quite plausible.

The artists impression above is based on the idea that it is essentially the same missile as the Iranian Ra’ad which is purely speculation but fits with a certain interpretation of numerous leads involving the closely tied missile developments of the two countries.

posted on Jun, 5 2007 @ 12:10 AM
Ballistic Missile Programme

Speculation continues surrounding the true and near future capabilities of the North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. There is no serious doubt that North Korea is now a nuclear power, and that they possess various forms of ballistic missiles, but the extent to which they have been able to marry the two is still somewhat contentious.

Really really brief backstory
Most of North Korea’s ballistic missiles are derived from the Soviet SCUD system which they obtained from Egypt. These missiles have been improved and ultimately resulted in crude medium/long range ballistic missiles.

Although the SCUD family of missiles could (and has in the past) been converted for naval launch (submarine or ship), they have relatively dangerous fuels that make storage and launch less robust than modern ballistic missiles.

Perhaps with this in mind North Korea has attempted to gain more modern ballistic missile technology as demonstrated by the 1993 arrest of a team of submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) scientists recruited from the Russian Makeyev missile design bureau.

Also North Korea has obtained elements of R-27 (SS-N-6) technology which probably includes the solid fuels better suited to naval deployment.

Golf-II Class Ballistic Missile Submarine

Dimensions: L 98m, W 8.2m, Displacement 3553t (submerged)
Max speed: 15-17kts surfaced, 12-14kts submerged.
Ballistic Missiles: 3 x ballistic missiles, probably modified Nodong-I (related to SCUD, Nodong-I has a maximum range of about 1,300km and theoretically could be modified to carry a nuclear warhead)
Torpedoes: 6 x 533mm (21”) heavyweight torpedo tubes.
Crew: 83

Russia sold 10-12 decommissioned submarines to DPRK in 1993 with deliveries in subsequent years. The exact make-up of the delivery is open to speculation but it was widely and consistently reported to include a number of functional Golf-II class ballistic missile submarines. Generally accepted figure for Golf-IIs involved in the sale is 10.

Although Russia maintains that the submarines were to be dismantled under Russian supervision, it was widely thought that DPRK would attempt to bring one or more back into service, possibly by means of cannibalization. The Golf-IIs carried SS-N-4 ballistic missiles in Russian service.

Most observers do not believe that any of the subs have been returned to service but the possibility remains and there doesn’t seem to be any public domain evidence to confirm either viewpoint.

The north Korean Nodong-I missile is related to the SS-N-4 via the SCUD, but is about 1m longer which means that either the missile or the hull would have to be modified to accommodate it, but this is not all that far fetched.

Unlike modern ballistic missile submarines the Golf-II is a diesel-electric boat which limits its time underwater relative to other countries SSBNs but on the other hand the technology to maintain and operate these boats is well within DPRK’s means relative to nuclear boats. The submarine was designed for underwater launch of the missiles, from depths of up to 50m and speeds of up to 4kts and a firing interval of about 5minutes. Pre-launch time was about 45minutes. Even assuming lower operational specs for returned-to-service DPRK Golf-IIs with Nodong-I, we are still talking about a credible is crude SSBM capability.

Evidential leads: Sale widely reported but good source:

Armed Merchantman

It is widely speculated that a far more logical way to deploy a ballistic missile is by using medium/large merchant ships as launch platforms. North Korea operates and builds ocean going merchant ships. The missiles could be hidden amongst transport containers.

posted on Jun, 5 2007 @ 12:11 AM
North Korean Submarine Fleet

Note: Some submarines are assigned to reconnaissance and infiltration, for details of this mission and equipment see separate section.

22 x Type 031 (‘Romeo’) diesel-electric attack subs
4 x ‘Whiskey’ class attack/training subs (probably inactive)
20+ x ‘Yugo’ type midget subs
1 x ‘41m SSK’ diesel electric attack sub (probably inactive)
20 + x ‘Sang-O’ type midget subs
10+ x ‘P-4’ type midget subs
??+ x Other midget submarines and wet submarines

Type 031 (‘Romeo’) attack sub

Dimensions: L 76m, W 6.7m, Displacement 1,700t submerged
Armament : 8 x 533mm (21’’) torpedo tubes (6 forward, 2 aft) with up to 14 SEAT-60 heavyweight torpedoes or 28 mines

North Korea received some of these boats from China and subsequently locally produced some. Although they are relatively capable they are somewhat dated and ill suited to open ocean operations. There is no evidence to suggest upgrades.

’Yugo’ type midget sub

Dimensions: L 20m, W 2m, Displacement 90t (submerged)
Speed : 10kts surfaced, 4 kts submerged
Armament: 2 x533-mm externally-mounted torpedoes in drop gear in some variants, possibly torpedo tubes in some and none in infiltration variants.

The Yugo class is so named because it was built to plans supplied by Yugoslavia in 1965. North Korea had started an indigenous midget-submarine programme prior to that but had been somewhat unsuccessful, with a crude submarine being captured by the South in 1965 after its crew abandoned it when it was beached on a mudflat during a receding tide on the Han River:

Dimensions: L 5.7m, W 1.1m, Displacement: 3t (submerged)
Speed : 7kts (surfaces), 3kts (submerged).

Although the indigenous midget submarine appears to have been functional, it was very small and extremely limited for infiltration purposes which appears to be the primary peace-time operation for North Korean Navy.

The Yugo boats however are much larger and have room for 4-6 infiltrators and can carry torpedoes or mines for the attack role. They are relatively short ranged though so for infiltration (or attack in wartime) operations in the far south, off Japan or further away, they require transportation and launch from a mother ship.

The ships were built at Yukdaeso-ri shipyard on the west coast from the late 1960s through to the early 1980s at which time they were superceded by the generally more capable Sang-O type. Contrary to some sources, the North Korean Yugo submarine was not very similar to Yugoslavian operated midget submarines such as the impressive Velebit type.

In the early 1980s North Korea developed a much larger coastal submarine known, rather imaginatively, as the “41m boat”. No prizes for guessing the length of this submarine. It is not clear exactly what the boat looked like except that its sail is not unlike the Yugo’s in profile and that it was not a “teardrop” hull. The type does not appear to have been successful and only one is reported and it is unlikely to still be operable.

’Sang-O’ type midget sub

Dimensions: L 34m, W 3.8m, Displacement: 370t (submerged)
Power: 1 diesel, 1 electric motor, 1 shaft
Speed 7.2kts surfaced, 8.8kts submerged
Range: 1500nm
Max Depth: 150 meters
Crew: 15
Armament (attack sub): 4 x 533-mm torpedoes with no reloads (Inc Russian 53-65 ASW torpedoes)
Armament (recce/infiltration version): None. 5 infiltrators and 6 KWP Reconnaissance Bureau Cadre as passengers

Developed as a much improved follow-on to the Yugo type, the Sang-O is well known because one was captured by the South during a botched infiltration mission in September 1997. The Sang-O is much larger and longer ranged than its predecessor.

Some boats have the torpedo tubes replaced by a passenger space and diver swim-out door for infiltration and sabotage missions. The 1500nm range is useful enough to allow the boats to operate without a mother ship in most cases making them much less susceptible to detection.

Hypothetically these subs could be modified to carry anti-ship missiles or Shkval rocket-torpedoes but neither capabilities are reported.

’P-4’ type midget sub

Dimensions: L 29m, Displacement: 190t
Armament: 2 x 533mm (21’’) torpedo tubes (not fitted in infiltration version)

Another improved midget submarine design, the P-4 is smaller than the Sang-O but also seemingly more advanced. It features an unusual co-axle twin propeller consisting of a large skewed propeller and a much smaller conventional propeller; this arrangement is believed to be an attempt to reduce the submarine’s noise signature.

An example of this type of submarine was captured during an infiltration mission in 1998 and subsequently put into service with the South Korean Navy emphasizing the build quality of the boat. Interestingly the sensors of the captured boat, including the sonar, were of Japanese origin.

posted on Jun, 5 2007 @ 12:14 AM
Infiltration Mission

North Korea is one of the few countries publicly proven to engage in infiltration of spies, saboteurs and extraction of kidnapped civilians via its naval vessels. Mostly this aspect of naval matters is overseen by the “KWP Reconnaissance Bureau” rather than the regular navy. Primary targets are South Korea and Japan.

Although it is hard to say how much of this goes on, several craft have been captured or sunk over the years.

Type-A Basic High-Speed infiltration craft

Dimensions: L 11m, Displacement 3t
Speed: 50kts
Armament : Small arms and crew carried weapons, possibly including short range air-defence missiles and RPGs.

Probably the first type of infiltration craft used, these are disguised as small fishing boats but the upper structures are fake. Because the craft is very short ranged it has to be carried near to its target by a mother ship which is itself disguised as a fishing boat (see below).

The craft is vulnerable to detection by radar and is believed to be less commonly employed in recent years although one was captured by the Japanese in the late 1990s after its mother ship was sunk during a prolonged gun battle with Japanese Coast Guard.

Once the craft is close to the enemy shore the infiltrators land by swimming, probably aided by a small hand held underwater propulsion pack that looks like a torpedo.

Example Mother Ship

Dimensions: L 30m, W 4.5m, Displacement: 44t
Speed : 33kts
Armament : 1 x twin ZPU2 14.5mm AAA (concealed). Pedestal mount for 73mm SPG9 recoilless rifle (disguised as a winch), small arms and shoulder launched weapons (SA-16 Igla MANPAD (SAM), RPG etc).

Outwardly appearing as a fishing vessel, this craft can carry an infiltration boat in a rear hanger concealed behind clamshell doors and similar in concept to a Land Ship Dock’s ('___') well deck.

Because the hanger is quite small non-submersible infiltration craft which are disguised as fishing boats (see above) must be assembled partly outside the hanger which makes the operation prone to discovery.

North Korea must use a wide range of mother ships some with hangers, some possibly towing their infiltration craft.

This craft is remarkably fast and has a hull not unlike a typical missile boat rather than a real fishing vessel.

Type-B Submersible Infiltration Landing Craft (SILC)

Dimensions: L 9.3m, W2.54, Displacement: 5 tons (est)
Speed: 30-40 kts surfaced; 12kts semi-submerged (est)
Range: 300nm surfaced (est)
Compliment: 3 (2x crew, 3 pax)
Armament: small arms

The first submersible infiltration craft was captured in 1983 by South Korean forces. The boat is launched from a mother ship as per the High Speed boat above, and approaches the coast at high speed. Close to the shore where radar/visual detection is most likely, the boat floods a compartment under the long foredeck and sinks to the point that the deck is awash and only the cabin is exposed.

The passengers reach the shore by swimming.

“Type-B” is not a North Korean designation. An improved version of the Type-B is reported with the cabin divided into two separate structures, one over the bridge and one over the passenger compartment. This arrangement is apparently intended to reduce the radar cross-section during the semi-submerged phase of the mission:

Type-C (SP-10H) Submersible Infiltration Landing craft (SILC)

Dimensions: L 9.3m, W2.54m, Displacement : 5 tons
Speed: 30-40 kts surfaced; 12kts semisubmerged
Range: 300nm surfaced
Compliment: 6 (2x crew, 4 passengers)
Armament: small arms

Captured during an infiltration mission in South Korea, this boat is generally the most widely reported and pictured example, but it’s generally only a minor variation on the Type-B.

Type-D Improved-SILC

Dimensions: L 12.8m, W2.95m, Displacement: 10.5 tons
Machinery: 3x 250 or 260 hp V8 (Johnson/OMC, etc)
Speed: 40-50kts surfaced, 4-6 kts submerged
Range: 200nm
Diving Depth: 3m snorkeling, 20 m maximum
Crew: 8 (4x crew, 1-2 escorts, 1-3 infiltrators)
Radar: Japanese made Furuno 1830
Armament: small arms

The I-SILC is fully submersible (i.e. a submarine) but approaches the shore at high speed on the surface like previous SILC. However, it can run almost fully submerged 3m below the surface with only the snorkel mast above the surface (the larger mast towards the rear of the boat). When not in use the snorkel folds aft to reduce the silhouette and radar signature.

In an emergency the boat can submerge completely to a depth of 20m (some sources say 25m) to avoid detection, but when fully submerged it cannot travel forward because it lacks electric motors.

Modular midget-submarine

Details: unknown

Despite its crude construction, this submarine is conceptually quite advanced; it can be dismantled and transported close to its target by larger infiltration craft.

In simplistic terms the submarine consists of a pressure vessel and three box-like floodable flotation tanks which are attached to the outside of the sub. The tanks have a boat shaped bow to assist surface running.

At least one example was captured in 1979.

SBS-2 Swimmer Delivery Vehicle

Dimensions: L 4.8m, W 0.76m, Displacement: 0.58 tons
Power: 1 electric motor, 1 shaft
Speed: 4 knots
Range: 85nm

posted on Jun, 5 2007 @ 12:17 AM
Conventional naval units

Some sources may not agree with numbers and minor details but overall view is pretty consistent.

Larger warships:
1 x “Soho” class missile frigate
2 x Najin class missile frigates
4 x Sariwon class gun corvettes
2 x Tral class gun corvettes

Fast Attack Craft (missile)
27 x Osa-I type missile boats
(15 x Soju Class missile boats)
(8 x Osa-I missile boats)
(4 x Huangfeng class missile boats)

3 x Chong-ju class missile boats
16 x Komar type missile boats
(6 x Sohung class missile boats)
(10 x Komar type missile boats)

Fast Attack Craft (Torpedo):
3 x Shershen torpedo boats
? x Sinnam torpedo boats
40+ x Sin Hung torpedo boats
12 x PT-6 torpedo boats
? x P4 torpedo boats (retired?)
1 x Chong Ju torpedo boat

Fast Attack Craft (Rocket)
62 x Chaho class
2 x Chong Ju class

Gun boats
7 x Taechong-I class
5 x Taechong-II class
6 x Hainan class
3 x Chodo class
18 x SO-1 class
12 x Shanghai-II class
?? x Shantou class

Soho class missile frigate

Dimensions: L 73.8m, W 15.5m, Displacement 1,845t
Armament : 4 x SS-N-2 Styx anti-ship missiles, 1 x 100mm main gun (crewed), 2 x AK-230 30mm AAA (automatic), 2 x twin 37mm AAA (crewed), 2 x 25mm AAA (crewed), 4 x RBU-1200 ASW rockets
Aircraft: Landing pad only, 1 x Mil Mi-17 Haze
Speed: About 25kts (highest estimate 27kts, lowest 23kts)

Built in 1983 in Najin, in service with the Eastern fleet, the infamous Soho class FFG is widely reported and listed by numerous credible sources, but few illustrations and seemingly no photos of this warship exist in Western media. An indigenous design noteworthy for its distinctive feature is that it employs a catamaran hull, the relative lack of activity and no further units suggest that it was not a success.

Najin class light missile frigate

Dimensions: L 102m, W 10m, Displacement about 1,500t
Armament : 2 x SS-N-2 Styx anti-ship missiles, 2 x 100mm main guns (crewed), 2 x twin 57mm AAA (crewed), 2 x AK-230 30mm AAA (automatic), 8 x twin 25mm AAA (crewed), depth charge rails
Aircraft: none
Speed: Est 24kts

Built in the early 1970s the Najin class is essentially the North Korean version of the Soviet Kola class light frigate, although curiously enough these were being built right about the time the Russian Navy was scrapping its Kolas. Despite their dated heritage, these ships are among the few truly ocean going warships of the North Korean fleet and have been relatively active, used as recovery ship escorts during north Korea’s ballistic missile test launches.

The original weapons fit included triple 533mm (21”) ASW torpedo tubes amidships but these were replaced by twin missile launchers and an extensively rebuilt superstructure in the early 1980s.

By modern standards these ship have extremely weak air defenses (despite bristling with AAA) and a somewhat puny anti-ship armament. It is incredible that the North Korean navy has not embraced automatic mid-caliber naval guns as has virtually every other navy.

Sariwon class gun corvette

Dimensions: L 62m, W 7.3m, Displacement about 500t
Armament: 1 x 85mm main gun (crewed), 1 x twin 57mm AAA (crewed), 4 x twin 37mm AAA (crewed, Some sources say twin 14.5mm).
Speed: 18kts

Basically an improved version of the older Soviet supplied Tral class minesweepers that are also used as gun corvettes (see below), the Sariwon is relatively limited in the modern environment. Sources conflict over the exact number built but at least some are active on the east coast.

Tral class gun corvettes

Dimensions: L 62m, W 7.3m, Displacement about 500t
Armament: 1 x 85mm main gun (crewed), 2 x twin 57mm AAA (crewed), 4 x 37mm AAA (crewed, Some sources say twin 14.5mm).
Speed: 18kts

Of pre-WWII Soviet minesweeper design, the Tral class are essentially obsolete and used for coastal patrol. Some sources suggest only one remains in service.

- - - ---- ------------------ break here -----------------------------

Soju/Osa-I type missile boats

Dimensions: L 43m, W 7.5m, Displacement 220t
Armament : 4 x SS-N-2 Styx anti-ship missiles, 2 x AK-230 30mm AAA (automatic, 2 x twin 25mm crewed AAA in some units as illustrated).
Speed: 34kts

The Soviets supplied 8 boats and North Korea locally produced 15 as the Soju class. The boats are essentially identical. Some sources, including a popular South Korean illustration of missile boats in tunnels, suggest that North Korea has Osa-II boats also but this is unconfirmed.

Type 021 HuangFeng class missile boats

Dimensions: L 39m, W 7.5m, Displacement 220t
Armament : 4 x HY-2 “Silkworm” anti-ship missiles, 2 x AK-230 30mm AAA (automatic).
Speed: 35kts

Chinese supplied variant of Osa-I design, it is not clear whether North Korea’s boats feature the improved ‘Rice Lamp’ fire control radar (see aft radome in illustration).

Chong Ju missile boats

Dimensions: L 42m, W 7.2m, Displacement 205t.
Armament: 4 x SS-N-2 Styx anti-ship missiles, 2 x AK-230 30mm AAA (automatic)
Speed: 22.5kts

Outwardly similar to the Soju/Osa-I missile boats, this design is actually a variation on the Chong Ju type. These boats are quite slow for fast attack craft but may retain the sonar of the other Chong Ju boats. If the sonar is removed, maximum speed may be increased.

Only three units were produces suggesting that it was not a huge success, or at least not a sufficient improvement over the Soju/Osa-I to warrant extended production.

Komar type missile boats

Dimensions: L 27m, W 6.4m, Displacement 80t
Armament : 2 x SS-N-2 Styx anti-ship missiles, 1 x twin 25mm AAA (crewed)
Speed: 30kts

The original Soviet missile boat design, 10 Komar boats were supplied and a further 6 locally produced as the Sohung class. These boats are dated and some may be inoperable.

------------- --- ---- break -----------------------

Shershen class torpedo boats

Dimensions: L 34m, W 6.8m, Displacement 160t
Armament : 4 x 533mm (21 ») heavyweight torpedoes, 2 x AK-230 twin 30mm AAA (automatic).
Speed: 42kts

Although only three boats serve, these are probably the most capable of North Korea’s torpedo boats (discounting suspected unknown types).

Sin Hung light torpedo boats

Dimensions: L 18m, W 3.4m, Displacement: 25t
Armament : 2 x 450mm (17.7’’) medium weight torpedoes, 2 x twin 14.5mm AAA (crewed)
Speed: 40kts

Small and agile but extremely dated, the Sin Hung class is probably the most numerous North Korean torpedo boat and generally representative of the rest.

Chaho class rocket boats

Dimensions: L 28m, W 6.1m, Displacement 82t
Armament : 1 x 40(?) tube 122mm BM-21 rocket launcher with about 80 reloads, 1 x Zu-23 23mm AAA (crewed, bow), 1 x 14.5mm AAA (crewed, stern)
Speed: 40kts

Indigenous design, these small fast patrol boats pack a powerful punch although the accuracy and effectiveness of the rocket launcher is open to question. Interestingly three Chaho were supplied to Iran but feature a different superstructure with mast further aft, and Chinese 107mm MRLS.

Chong Ju class rocket boats

Dimensions: L 42m, W 7.2m, Displacement 205t.
Armament: 1 x 40(?) tube 122mm BM-21 rocket launcher with up to 80 reloads, 1 x 85mm main gun (crewed), 2 x twin 14.5mm AAA (crewed)
Speed: 22.5kts

Much larger than the more numerous Chaho boats, this class features a sonar although its purpose is confusing given its armament.

As with the Chaho the sources differ as to the exact number of tubes in the MRL. Reloads are stored in the bins at the rear of the boat.

Taechong-I gun boat

Dimensions: L 60m, Displacement about 250t
Armament : 1 x 85mm main gun (crewed), 1 x 57mm AAA (crewed), 1 x 25mm AAA (crewed), 1 x 14.5mm AAA (crewed), 2 x RBU-1200 ASW rockets, depth charges
Speed: 30kts

Slightly bigger and better than the previous Chinese and Russian supplied gun boats (often designed as Sub Chasers but woefully inadequate as such), the Taechong class is representative of a large number of generally similar gun armed patrol boats employed by North Korea.

Taechong-II gun boat

Dimensions: L 60m, Displacement about 250t
Armament : 1 x 85mm main gun (crewed), 1 x 57mm AAA (crewed), 2 x AK-230 twin 30mm AAA (automatic)5mm AAA (crewed), 2 x 14.5mm AAA (crewed), depth charges
Speed: 30kts

An improved version of the Taechong with noticeably improved air defences, the Taechong-II boats are probably the most modern conventional gunboats now in service with the North Korean Navy.

North Korea operates numerous other gun boats and minor units, as well as some landing ships and about 55 hovercraft.

List of Google Earth items of interest:

[edit on 5-6-2007 by planeman]

posted on Jun, 5 2007 @ 01:15 AM
This is awesome planeman! 5 stars +

You have voted planeman for the 'it's the thought that counts' Way Above Top Secret award. You have two more votes this month.

Luvin' it

posted on Jun, 9 2007 @ 07:50 AM
Thank you for this "guide" for the north Korean navy.

It is interesting to see that they have some nice vessels who are despite they are dated, still are deadly enough to inflict serious amounts off damage to any fleet who dares to launch an attack.

Also intruiging is the fact that they have Japanese stuf onboard their indidgious designed and built subs. That suggests that the sanctions dont work in reality and that the useage off sanctions are mere a politial thing then it is for real isolation off a country.


(My first post

posted on Jun, 9 2007 @ 10:49 AM
The North Korean navy seems to be much stronger than I previously thougt. Especially the number of Submarines seemed surprising. NK with ballistic submarines would be much more dangerous than the unreliable ICBMs they have. Great summary planeman!

posted on Oct, 14 2007 @ 11:13 PM
Update: Google Earth has new images of the Kivak frigate, but they reveal no changes. They are lowr res than the older ones (

posted on Jan, 27 2008 @ 04:29 AM
reply to post by planeman

While browsing through GoogleEarth I found what looks like one of the SES craft. It measures 35m in length and 11m in width. Maybe you can give your oppinion about this ship based on the screenshot below. I won't say where I found the ship for now because it is NOT in North Korea. So what do you think, is this one of the SES missile craft?

[edit on 27-1-2008 by earthgoogler]

posted on Jan, 27 2008 @ 01:31 PM
It appears to have a slightly different layout but yes, that looks like it. Please tell me where
- by PM if you wish,

posted on Jan, 29 2008 @ 01:38 PM
reply to post by planeman

I didn't want to influence your opinion about this ship by telling you the location. The ship is at 25°21'3.02"N, 55°22'43.84"E . That is in the United Arab Emirates! I can't think of any other navy ship that looks like this one.

posted on Aug, 19 2008 @ 04:52 AM
reply to post by earthgoogler

Sweden makes a similar looking vessel, that is 47 meters long, called the Skjold. It is an air-cushioned vessel, for coastal ops.

From the angle taken of this one, it is hard to tell if it is a catamaran, or an ACV.

posted on Oct, 9 2008 @ 09:37 PM
Planeman you might want to file a complaint with this web site for using one of your images without credit.

As soon as I saw the image reference while reading the report I recognized it as one that had been posted on here some time ago.


posted on Oct, 16 2008 @ 11:59 PM
compare this photo

With the north Korean type-d improved-SILC

Interesting how close they are in the radar and snorkel.
are the iranian copying north Korea or is this a real photo of a Type-D improved-SILC that was sold to Iran

[edit on 17-10-2008 by ANNED]

posted on Jun, 6 2010 @ 08:39 AM
wow, what a thread gotta give ya credit
the stealth boat looks cool
thanks really interesting

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