North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

New DPRK Warship on GE?

A GoogleEarth image from a YTN report, showing what some ROK military authorities believe to be a new model DPRK warship docked at the Namp'o Shipyard (YTN Television)

Photo: GoogleEarth

Yonhap reports that a new DPRK warship was discovered on a Google Earth image (images above) from April, 2009.  In the image the ship is docked at the Namp’o Shipyard, next to what appears to be a floating drydock.  According to the analysis in this report the warship may be an air-cushioned vehicle (ACV) “armed with 57 mm machine gun on the bow and 30 mm machine gun on the stern”

A Google Earth photo on Wednesday showed the ship stationed at the western port city of Nampo near the Daedong River. The normal landing craft is about 20 meters long, and the battleship appeared to be about 34 meters in length.

In the photo, the ship is equipped with a 57-millimeter machine gun on the bow and a 30-mm machine gun on the stern. A military source said the new vessel can travel at up to 90 kilometers per hour.

Sources have said the air cushioned ship is capable of launching quick, sudden strikes on South Korean vessels.


A hovercraft or, perhaps, a modified catamaran.  This report included a November 2002 GE image of a similar ship at Wonsan’s commercial port (images above).  YTN reported that the DPRK  “military deployed approximately 130 units of 17- to 20-meter long Kongbang class ACVs along its east and west coasts, but this is the first time that the sightings of the remodeled air-cushioned battleships have been confirmed via satellite photos.”  These model ACV’s may be seen in the two images below:

Photo: GoogleEarth

These seem to be busy days for the DPRK’s military industry and logistics services.   JoongAng Ilbo reported last week that the Korean People’s Army is constructing protective tunnels for its long-range artillery, which includes 240 mm multi-launch rocket launchers and 170 mm self-propelled guns with a range of 55 to 65 km (34 to 40 miles).  It is estimated that the DPRK has deployed approximately 600 artillery units near the inter-Korean border.

It has been discovered that the DPRK are undertaking construction work to build protective covers over new long-range artillery positions to protect them from US-ROK combined forces' attacks. This official also said that the North Korean military is preparing for cluster bomb attacks by the US-ROK militaries by installing protective covers over long-range artillery positions in the tunnels created on the northern side. (JoongAng Ilbo)

An affiliate of 38 North