January 11, 2016

North Korea's Three Sinpo-Golf SSBKs Being Built Heavier

H I Sutton of Covert Shores has produced this excellent artwork (above and below) depicting a North Korean "Gorae" Sinpo class SSBK fring one of its two SLBMs. Click here to greatly enlarge image and text below.


North Korea Naval Bases and Fleet HQs. Mini-submarines and Sinpo-Golf "SSBKs" might operate out of Sagin Ni (under West Sea Fleet Command) and/or Sinpo - Mayang Do and Chaho Submarine Bases (under East Sea Fleet Command). The likely North Korean nuclear missile launch points (including SLBMs) would have been defined by Russian, Chinese and Western military intelligence for years, with constant sensor surveillance and cueing of first and/or second strike forces. Golf SSBKs could also be seen as Sinpo class depending on the extent of modernisation-component replacement. SSBK means conventional diesel electric propelled submarine capable of firing large nuclear tipped ballistic missiles. (Map courtesy US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA))


At thread Nicky asked Jan 11, 2016 5:51AM:

"So how likely did the North Koreans reverse engineered and brought back to life the Golf-class and what Variant of the Golf class SSB have they reversed engineered. How easy would a sonar tech be able to find them."


I estimate the NKs renovated or are renovating around 3 (military "Rule of Thirds") of their very old ex-Soviet Golf SSKs up to SLBM capability. In 1993, ten Golfs were sold to North Korea for scrap.[5] According to some sources, the North Koreans are attempting to get these boats back into service.[6]

The NKs probably used/are using contractors (on a state-sanctioned or venal/covert basis) from Russia and maybe China in this renovation effort to SLBM capability. The lack of Iranian or Pakistani experience with SSBNs or SLBMs makes contractors from Iran or Pakistan less likely.

It would be unnecessary to reverse engineer whole Golfs but mainly integrate some modern features (especially electronics and engines) into the three Sinpo-Golf SSBKs. 

Sinpo-Golf SSBKs could also be seen as Sinpo class depending on the extent of modernisation-component replacement. Sinpo class, if 1,000-1,500 ton displacement have been considered too light to launch SLBMs in a stable and safe way for the submarine and for the 2 or 3 SLBMs. 

In the 1950s the Russians saw the stability-safety deficiencies in the 2,000 ton Zulu V class. More recently Washington Free Beacon (read US intelligence) January 8, 2016 reported:

"Defense officials said the successful test followed an earlier test failure on Nov. 27 [2015] that nearly sank North Korea’s [presumably 1,500 ton Sinpo?] missile-firing submarine, known as the Gorae, or Whale. The November [2015] ejection test caused significant damage, and the submarine was observed returning to the port of Sinpo listing at a 45-degree angle.".

 The Soviets/Russians built the Golfs twice as heavy (around 3,000 tons) in the late 1950s to provide a stable-safe launch point for the 3 SLBMs. All this may mean NK may be adding extra tonnage to its Sinpo design to make it a viable SSBK.

These Sinpo-Golf SSBKs are probably very noisy due to their obsolete shapes and reverberations of incompatible equipment. This deficiency is made worse for NK by many Western, Chinese and Russian sensors (including sonar) being cued against the Golfs and against other potential NK nuclear missile launch points.

Due to easy detection of the Sinpo-Golfs SSBKs NK would likely pursue a stategy of keeping them in NK (missile and aircraft) protected waters - much as China has done with its noisy Type 094 Jin SSBNs

The general assumption of North Korea nuclear missile crews, that firing their missiles is the last thing they do before the crews themselves are "nuked", would apply to silo, land-mobile and SSBK crews.




Nicky said...

Hi Pete,
I would not be surprise if the Sinpo class SSBK's are an evolution of the Golf-class submarine. Maybe those 10 Golf-class submarine that the soviets gave them, were reverse engineered into the Sinpo class SSBK. I have a feeling that the North Koreans still have the 10 Golf-class submarines and they are working in secret to reverse engineer them.Even though they are a 1950's era SSBK, they sre still very noisy.

KEN said...

I was wondering in light of a potential conflict with the US does North Korea have the ability to get any of their submarines anywhere near the US coast? Why or why not.

Thanks, Ken McAuliffe

Peter Coates said...

Hi Ken

US, Japanese and South Korean fixed and mobile sensors would pick up most or all North Korean (NK) subs that left NK ports and then left Northeast Asian waters.

Dangers grow if there are alot of NK nuclear armed subs with the range to get within about 3,000 kms of the continental US West Coast. NK may be developing nuclear tipped SLBMs with a 3,000km range.

Also smaller NK subs might be under development to fire nuclear tipped cruise missiles and nuclear tipped torpedos. When fired much closer (say 300km down to 30km) to the US coast they could cause havoc.

Deciding which NK subs are nuclear armed may be especially difficult concerning cruise missiles and torpedos.



KEN said...

Continuing that thought, if they send all their subs to sea at once, creating a swarm so to speak, a few of the newest may get by the sensors?

Nuclear tipped torpedoes is a thought I had not considered, sending one into the San Francisco Bay, which is ringed with hills would be devastating. Do you think they have reached that level of miniaturization?

Thanks, Ken

Peter Coates said...

Hi Ken [at 9/8/17 12:55 AM]

At the suspicion you are a think-tank or academic fishing for free input. Are you North Korean?

Please send money offer to my email address. Then we can go from there.



KEN said...

I am neither a North Korean or a think tank, but as a part time journalist I'm always looking for input. Always free... It's the nature of the business.

I don't see your email address on the site but mine is ken@minnesotafound.com

I'm also guessing the answer to my question is yes. However, giving that a little more thought I can think of dozens of ways for a launch tube or torpedo tube to be concealed in all classes of ships re flagged for the purpose.

One can only hope they are not that clever or driven.