N.Korea 'Building Mini Subs'

  • By Yu Yong-weon, Roh Suk-jo

    August 27, 2020 13:16

    An American submarine expert believes that an "unusual object" seen in satellite imagery from July at a shipyard in North Korea is either a "new class of midget submarine or extra-large un-crewed underwater vehicle."

    Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo also reported to the National Assembly's Defense Committee on Tuesday that North Korea is building a new type of submarine.

    H. I. Sutton wrote in Forbes magazine on Tuesday, "The new type was first reported, simply as an 'unusual object,' by North Korean monitoring group 38 North on May 29. My own initial assessment was that it was likely to be a new class of midget submarine or extra-large un-crewed underwater vehicle."

    "I now consider a crewed midget submarine more likely for two main reasons," he wrote. "It has a distinct sail, meaning the raised fairing we are used to seeing in the middle of a submarine. One use for this is to allow the crew to safely enter and exit the submarine at sea without it being flooded by waves. So it is an indication of crew access."

    He speculated that the subs could be used for infiltration operations against South Korea.

    "They are well suited to operating inshore, and of course they are cheaper," Sutton said. "They can only carry a small weapons load, limited sonar, and have a short range. North Korea has a long history of building midget submarines and has operated them aggressively against South Korea in the past."

    Jeong also told the committee that North Korea seems to have been carrying out two projects at the Sinpo shipyard in North Hamgyeong Province -- improving old-fashioned Romeo-class subs and building new subs.

    The new 3,000-ton subs are believed to be capable of carrying three or four ballistic missiles, while the improved Romeo-class subs seem to be capable of carrying about three Pukguksong-3 ballistic missiles. 

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