Jun 3, 2011

Future of the North-Korea Navy

Up to 50 miles off shore, no more…

Due to the “shadows” surrounding the North Korean fleet, this review can only be “approximative”...

Coastlines: 2495 km; 3579 islands lie adjacent to the Korean Peninsula, mostly along the south and west coasts, and a EEZ aera of 132,826 km2.

Personnal Strenght
+/- 46 000 (+ 65 000 reserve)

Up to 1 ? Frigate
One hull of Russian Krivak frigate acquired by 2003 (officially purchased for “scrapping steel" use), but it remains in its original state for +/- 5 years (and moved from Wonsan to Nampo).
Because the hull still remains intact, North Korea is believed to have plans for reinstalling weapons systems (including provisions for helicopters, naval guns and as a testbed for North Korea's newly developed Anti-Ship Missile)......wait & see

+/- 3 Corvettes
2 Najin
(N° 531, 591). 1500 tons, 102 meters (derived from the Russian Kola frigates of early 1950’s). Even fully obsolete by the early part of their careers !. Commissioned around 1973/1975, now fully ++ obsolete ship.

1 Soho
(n° 823 Soho). 1600 tons, 73+ meters twin hulled frigate design. Commissioned around 1983 ?.

Up to ? 32 ? Fast Missiles Attack Crafts
12 Osa-I
175+ tons, 37+ meters, transferred by 1968-1973 ?, now likely unreliable/unserviceable ?

8 Soju/Osa-I
180+ tons, 38+ meters (North-Korean version of the Russian OSA-I FAC). Commissioned by 1981-1995.

4 Huang-Feng
38+ meters (Chinese version of the Russian OSA-I FAC). Acquired by 1982.

6 Komar
60+ tons, 25+ meters (Russian late 1950's MTB/FAC desifn, initially 10 Russian built transferred, few others built locally). Likely all received during 1960's/early 1970's. Now fully obsolete and likely unreliable/unserviceable...

6 So-Hung
Indigenous Komar design (steel-hull version). 8 initially commissioned around 1980-1981, apparently 2 retired from service (lack of spare or accidentaly lost ?)

From 158 to 218 ? Fast Torpedo Attack Crafts (a outdated concept)
3 Shershen (Project 206)
(843, 844, 845, a four craft ?). 220+ tons, 39+ meters (Ex Russian “Shershen MTB transferred by 1968, a four by 1971), Uncertain status.

1 Sinmam
A 150 tons “Chong Ju” patrol boat armed with torpedo-tubes.

82 to 142 ? Sing Hung
25 tons, 18+ meters (North-Korean built, improved from the Russian P4 design). Commissioned by mid 1950’s/early 1970’s. Now fully obsolete, ageing and vulnerable/fragile crafts

0 to 12 ? P4
22+ tons, 22 meters (Russian MTB design of mid 1940's). Transferred by 1952/1953, 15 built locally “Iwon class” ??? Probably not in service since many years and maybe already scrapped ?

+/- 60 Ku Song
Derived from the Chinese hydropters of type "6625" and "026". Uncertain data.

+/- 12 P6
(Q71, Q152……). 60+ tons, 25+ meters (Russian P-6 MTB design of late 1950’s). More than 45 Russian built transferred during 1960’s. 20 others locally built during 1960’s/1970’s, sometime called as a “Sinpo” class. Fully obsolete and in dubious state.

+/- 27-30 Oceanic Submarines (more probably 6 to 8…)
Up to 1 ? Golf
Some rumors, uncertain data ?

0 to 4 ? Whiskey
1200+ tons, 76 meters (Russian Whiskey SSK design of late 1940’s). 4 transferred during 1960’s, 4 others transferred by 1974 (maybe for spare-parts use ?). Now fully obsolete units, all Whiskey very likely not operational, likely used as a battery hulk or already scrapped ?

4 to 7 ? Romeo (Type 033 ES3B ?)
Chinese built Romeo"s SSK, transferred by 1973/1975. Some were not operational and used as a battery hulk, maybe up to 4 "Chinese built Romeo" serviceable ?

6 to 22 ??? Romeo (Type 031)
1400/1800 tons, 77 meters. 19 to 22 locally assembled (Chinese supplied parts) by mid 1970’s/late 1980’s. Most are likely not operational, used as a battery hulk or progressively cannibalized as a spare part for the few remaining “in service” Romeo, some others already scrapped. Only 6 to 8 North-Korean Romeo were still +/- operational ships

Few dozens of Coastal/Midgets- Submarines (a radically much more serious threat)
Up to 32 San-O
370 tons, 34 meters (largest home-built sub design, based on the Yugoslavian Heroj design). Maybe built through 1980’s-1990’s.

Up to 23 Yono-II (MS-29)
110/130 tons. Some mislabeled as a Yugo SSK’s class.

1 Yono-II mod
115 tons, Prototype SSK for the Yono-II.

10 Yono-I (P-44)
90 tons, 20 meters.

+ Some 5,7 meters (3 tons) "manned torpedoes", for special ops ?

+/- 24 Coastal-Mineweespers
19 Yukto-I
60 tons, 24 meters (locally designed/built wooden coastal mineweespers). Built in the 1980’s

4 or 5 Yukto-II
+/- 60 tons, 21 meters (locally designed/built wooden coastal mineweespers). Built in the 1980’s

+ a large stock of home-built naval mines (mainly north-Korean copies of Russian/Chineses Mines)

15 to 25 ? Medium Amphibious crafts
8 to 10 Hantae (LCU)
200 tons, 48 meters LCU design. First four built during 1980’s, others by 1990’s/2000’s.

7 (to 15 ?) Hanchon (LCU)
130/145 tons, 35+ meters LCU design. First seven built by late 1980’s/mid 1990’s, others follows

Small Amphibious Crafts
+/- 96 Nampo (armed LCP)
82 tons, 27+ meters (In fact P-6 craft with forward ramp & MG). Built during mid 1970’s/mid 1990’s.

10 to 15 ? Hungnam (LCM/LCP)
Uncertain data ?

1 KongBang-I/Songjong I (Assault Overcraft/LCPA)
25 meters. Likely prototype craft.

57 KongBang-II/Songjong II (Assault Overcraft/LCPA)
21 meters. Built during 1980’s.

78 KongBang-III/Songjong III (Assault Overcraft/LCPA)
18 meters. Fast Small Attack Crafts (

+/- 24 Off Shore Patrol Boats (300/700 tons)
4 or 5 Sariwan
(611, 612, 613, 614, 671). 650 tons, 61 meters (derived from russian 1930’s Tral mineweesper design). Commissioned during mid 1960’s. Mainly used as a patrol Boats/Minelayer, fully obsolete.

1 or 2 Tral
(N° 671…) 440 tons, with a forward Tank Turret. Transferred by 1955.

6 Hainan
(N° 201, 202, 203, 204, 292, 293). 375/400 tons, 58+ meters (Chinese Hainan PB’s design). Transferred in three pairs in 1975, 1976, 1978 respectively.

7 Taechong-I
385 tons, 59 meters (Home-Built version of the Chinese Hainan Patrol Boat).

5 Taechong-II/Mayang
(N° 571, 572, 573, 574, 575). 390 tons. Slightly different model from the Taechong-I.

In-Shore & Mid Shore Patrol Boats
11 Shanghai-II/Type 062
(N° 381, 382, 383, 384, 385, 386, 387, 388, 391, 392, 393, 394). 130+ tons, 38+ meters (Chinese patrol craft design). Transferred by 1967/mid 1970’s (One was sunk by South-Korean Navy in November 2009). Maybe 8 Shangai-I transferred ?

8 SO-1
190 tons. Russian Built. Likely all retired from service ?

11 SO-1
(N° 681, 682…), 195 tons. Home-Built (copy from Russian SO-1 design). Some were armed with a 85mm tank turrets.

1 Type 801 ?
Uncertain Data ?

6 Chong-Ju
150 tons. (Rokets armed)

+/- 59 Chaho
(N° 505, 506, 507, 508, 509, 551, 552, 553, 554, 555, 556, 557…2060…). 60 tons (based on the P-6 MTB design). Built by 1974/late 1980’s.

54 Chong-Jin
60 tons (derived from the Chaho craft, but with a 85mm Tank Turret).

Few TB-40A
(Mainly used on the Yalu river).

Few IPS-18
30 tons, stealthy crafts, armed with rockets.

Some Taedong A & B (Semi-Submersibles Torpedo Crafts)
30 tons, armed with light torpedoes.

Some IPS-16/Ketnap/Peykaap
14 tons, armed with light torpedoes.

Few Taedong D (Semi-Submersibles Torpedo Crafts)
10+ tons.

Few Taedong C/Gahjae (Semi-Submersibles Torpedo Crafts)
7 tons.

Some SP-10/Cluster Osprey
5 tons

Up to 7 Auxiliary Ships

1 Kowan (Submarine Rescue Ship)
(Kowan). 84 meters, catamaran hull.

1 Donghae 101 (Hydrographic Survey Ships)
(1 Donghae 101), 260 tons

1 Donghae 102 (Hydrographic Survey Ships)
(1 Donghae 102), 1100 tons

1 Sohai 201 (Hydrographic Survey Ships)
(Sohai 201 ), 260 tons

1 Sohai 202 (Hydrographic Survey Ships)
(Sohai 202 ), 300 tons

2 Oceanic Tug
Uncertain data ?

Various sources (some serious, others less...) speak of:
- Few dozens of civil Trawlers used as a intelligence or mothers ships (very likely).
- Maybe the capability to use 1 or 2 cargos ships as a "missile Carrier" in event of a war with South-Korea/USA/Japan (?).

Coastal Artillery:
- Towed/Mobile Guns: Some 122mm guns (M-1931/37); some 152mm guns (M-1937).
- Fixed mounts: Some 130mm guns (M-1992; SM-4-1).

Coastal Missiles Battery:
CSSC-2B Samlet, CSSC-2 Silkworm, CSSC-3 Seersucker ?

Naval Aviation:
unreliable data ?
- Some aircrafts from the North-Korean Air Force can mahe anti-ships/maritime patrols missions (in any case, many aircrafts were already obsolete...).
- Some helico from the North-Korean Air Force can make Survey/SAR missions (but any effective ASW ops).

In case of (major) war with the allies (South-Korea/USA/Japan).The North Korean navy will survive only few weeks before reaching a total extermination. Only midget submarines, mines, coastal batteries and a few dozen of "speedboats" can give some "sweats" to U.S./South Korean Navies .... and that up to 50 miles offshore, but no more ....at long term, the reunification of the two korea’s will be inevitable (peacefully or by force).

Next fleet review/editorial: Future of the South-African Navy

As usual, It may be that in my opinion, I forgot programs ? (or made few mistakes ?, especially for the auxiliary and smaller ships), then SAID IT ! Feel free to comment and give your opinion !


  1. In the long run but there shear numbers will take an age to locate and clear which would more than adequately delay any from of Amphibious Assault from USMC and their chums forcing a ground assault over the DMZ or aerial drop in. Thereby having some practicality, or be it purely a delaying tactic, for the defence of the nation.

  2. Interesting review! I wonder how they will be able to replace all those obsolete ships and vessels? For ordinary people, it is certainly difficult to imagine the degree of comfort in a Chinese built patrol boat of the Shanghai II class, but for a start I can tell you that there is no toilet on board. ;-)

  3. Thanks "Anonymous" for your comment

    @ P.N:
    Amazing detail for the chinese craft :D

  4. Some things whould be added..
    First of all the Krivak is probably operative, it was moved away from Nampo harbor and it's possibly located at Arangdong island (but sadly there are no new updates there on Google Earth).
    However at Nampo were visible in 2012: at least 4 patrol boats/missile boats SES (hovercrafts+catamaran hull) of 35metres with an iranian made 76mm gun + 30mm and space for anti-ships missiles, a new unreported similar class (40metres) but with standard hull,
    Also a new class of corvettes (76metres of lenght) with helicopter deck, one ship almost ready with no weapons and another on building.

    At Wonsan and east fleet there are at least 2 visible stealth patrol ship/missile boat of 40metres of lenght.

    Photos and analys on iranmilitaryforum