New Sinpo-C-class Submarine for North Korea

Sinpo-class SSB
Sinpo-class SSB

North Korea has started building a new “Sinpo-C-class” submarine at the Sinpo shipyard on the Eastern coast of the country, according to U.S military intelligence assets. Analyst from 38 North detected potential signs of ongoing shipbuilding at the Sinpo shipyard.

The Sinpo shipyard where the new Sinpo-C-class SSB is being built
The Sinpo shipyard where the new Sinpo-C-class SSB is being built

“Given the continued movement of components in the parts yards, a shipbuilding program is probably underway although the type of vessel remains unknown.”

Although a new submarine is potentially being built, there is no evidence of North Korea planning to conduct a SLMB test in the near future.

“While there is growing concern that the North may be planning a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test in the near future, the current imagery does not indicate an imminent test. The SINPO-class submarine, submersible test stand barge and nearby test stand, however, appear capable of supporting a test at any time of Pyongyang’s choosing.”

The Sinpo-C-class submarine is believed to be capable of launching KN-11 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) . The KN-11 SLBM operational range is being disputed among analysts but South Korean experts believes it could reach targets at up to 2,000 km by conducting more tests.

“Experts here said North Korea may conduct more SLBM tests to extend the missile’s working range to some 2,000 kilometers.”

The diesel-electric propulsion submarine is estimated at more than 2,000 tons and with a beam measurement of more than 11 meters. According to the U.S. military intelligence experts, this new North Korean submarine is the largest-ever built ship by Pyongyang’s regime since the Najin-class frigates.

This new submarine class is likely a successsor to the Sinpo-B-class (Gorae-class in North Korea) ballistic missile submarine (SSB).

North KoreanSinpo-B-class SSB
North Korean Sinpo-class SSB is potentially being the design used to build the new Sinpo-C-class SSB.

North Korea has been particularly active in ballistic missile tests this year. Pyongyang’s regime also warned the U.S. of a possible “salvo of missiles” in the waters near Guam in reprisal for joint U.S.-South Korea military drills.

North Korea’s deputy United Nations Ambassador also warned the General Assembly of a potential nuclear war in the near future.

Although a new Sinpo-C-class SSB will enhance North Korea’s nuclear capability, it is very unlikely that it would do any difference at a strategic level. With the United States’ 7th Fleet and its allies in the region, the survivability of Pyongyang’s next submarine would be very low. The constant satellite imagery would also provide the necessary intelligence to conduct a pre-emptive strike on the shipyard by the United States and South Korean Air Force if needed.

That said, the development of a new submarine class by North Korea must be taken seriously as it will improve their capability to conduct the first strike if ordered by Pyongyang.


About Jonathan Wade, CD 60 Articles
Jonathan is decorated former light infantryman who served more than 14 years in the Canadian Forces. Deployed to Afghanistan as part of an embedded mentoring team with the Afghan National Army, Jonathan acquired exceptional leadership skills, culture appreciation as well as a detailed comprehension of the situation on the ground. After his career as a soldier, Jonathan founded The Sentinel Analytical Group (2014-2017), and later renamed the blog to Conflict Observer. His goal is to offer an alternative to mainstream media news with detailed analysis as well as offering vital technical informations for a better comprehension of the situation. Jonathan is also the media analyst for the “Centre sur la sécurité internationale” at the Laval University, a military and strategic analyst for “La Commission Gendron” as well as a project coordinator with the NATO Association of Canada. He is now studying at the Laval University in Russian studies, Political Science, and Arab studies. Jonathan speaks French, English and Russian (elementary). He is also working on Modern Standard Arabic. You can follow Jonathan on Twitter : @JonathanWadeCD. E-mail :