Seoul, Sep 22 (EFE).- A new satellite imagery of a North Korean shipyard shows that the military of the reclusive state may be gearing up to launch a new submarine.
The Sep.18 photos show six ships around the Sinpo South Shipyard, where North Korea builds its submarines.
The North Korea-focused 38 North website said vessels and barges observed around the submarine launch quay were not seen in photos dated Sep.12, “indicating that the preparations are likely still at an early stage.”
“While barges and a dry dock have been occasionally observed around the submarine launch quay at the main construction hall, the presence of six vessels and barges in this area has not been observed before,” the US monitor said.
The website said the activities raised the question of where a new submarine would be berthed after a possible launch.
“The secure boat basin is one possible choice, although only one submarine can fit under the covered area of the quay,” said the monitor.
“Another potential area would be the probable submarine pen and L-shaped pier that have been under slow construction in recent years.”
The new photos also show an apparent tow fixture on the launch quay rollout rails that could be used to ensure the barges tow the submarine out along the rails.
“Since the quay abruptly drops into the water, the floating dry dock could be used to receive the submarine as it comes off the quay and then gently set it into the water.”
North Korea began developing a new ballistic missile submarine (SSB) in early 2016.
It is unknown if the under-construction vessel is a derivation of its current Sinpo-class submarine (called “Gorae” whale in Korean) or if it is a new brand.
In 2019, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited the shipyard. Images from his visit suggested construction was nearing completion.
The parts yard adjacent to the construction halls has been empty since the late summer of 2020, but there have been no indications in North Korean media about when the new submarine might be launched. EFE