On the whole, North Korea lacks shipbuilding facilities on par with the West when attempting to construct advanced ocean-going attack platforms but its industry is capable of producing some viable combat systems. The Sinpo-class submarine is an example of a local industry initiative to supply the Korean People's Navy (KPM) with a modern ballistic missile platform to further expand the country's growing missile aspirations. The type is one of the newer submarines available to the KPN and represents one of the largest to be attempted by the hermit nation.
The Sinpo-class is expected to succeed the aging line of Soviet-era Romeo-class submarines of which the KPN was a customer of (some 77 were taken into service). The Sinpo-class is also known as the Pongdae-class.
The Snipo family of boats makes use of a conventional diesel-electric propulsion scheme and is believed influenced in design and arrangement by various Soviet-era submarines. Overall length is estimated at 65.5 meters with a beam reaching 6.6 meters giving the boat a relatively compact footprint. Performance, also estimated, includes a surface-going speed of 16 knots and a submerged speed nearing 10 knots. Range is out to 1,500 nautical miles.
The diesel-electric propulsion indicates that diesel units are used for surface travel and battery packs feed an electrical drive system for submerged work. This forces the boat to surface to recharge the battery supply and exhaust dangerous CO2 gasses.
The boat boasts both traditional torpedo armament (perhaps 4 x 533mm bow-mounted tubes) and support for the Pukkuksong-1 (KN-11) Surface-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM). The latter weapon is known to have been test-launched from a Sinpo-class submarine in May of 2015. It is a single-stage, solid-propellant fueled rocket with a 1,000 kilometer range.
Up to seven boats of the class are currently recognized with one already having entered service and six believed under construction.
Status Commissioned, in Active Service
Complement 75 Personnel
Ship Class [ Sinpo-class ] Ships-in-Class [ 7 ]Ship Names:Some seven boats of the class are known as of 2017.
- Blue Water Operations
- Fleet Support
215 ft (65.53 m)
Width / Beam:
21.65 ft (6.60 m)
Conventional diesel-electric arrangement driving power to 1 x Shaft astern.
16 kts (18 mph)
10 kts (11.51 miles)
1,499 nm (1,725 miles; 2,776 km)
4 x 533mm (21") torpedo tubes in bow.
3 x Missile tubes for Pukkuksong-1 (KN-11) ballistic missiles.
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