The Sinpo South Naval Shipyard

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Last Updated: November 8, 2016
Other Name: Pongdae Boiler Plant
Location: Sinpo City (신포시), South Hamgyong Province (함경남도), North Korea
Size: The facility covers an area of roughly 1.6 square kilometers and consist of a secure boat basin, two construction halls, and a missile ejection test-stand.
Facility Status: Operational

The Sinpo Naval Shipyard functions as both a naval base and the center of North Korea’s Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) program. As a missile development center and naval base, Sinpo’s function is to test its SLBM system, and develop a delivery vehicle for its SLBMs.

Analysts’ attention was first drawn to Sinpo on 1 November 2013 after North Korea released photographs of Kim Jong Un inspecting an un-named shipyard. This shipyard was quickly identified as the Sinpo Naval Shipyard located in North Korea’s South Hamgyong province. A few months after Kim’s visit, analysts spotted a new type of submarine in a protected enclosure within the harbor. This submarine, often referred to by analysts as “Gorae” was subsequently confirmed as being capable of carrying a ballistic missile.

Subsequent satellite imagery of the shipyard depicted construction of several structures related to the testing of SLBM systems. These included an ejection test-stand for missile ejection testing, construction hall renovations which might allow for the construction of new SLBM capable submarines, a secure boat basin to house the submarine, and a Towed Underwater Launch Platform (TULP) which would allow the North Koreans to test ejection systems at sea.

On 8 May 2015, North Korea carried out its first SLBM test. Though North Koreans are suspected of using a TULP instead of a submarine to launch the missile, it marked an important milestone in North Korea’s SLBM program. Since then, Sinpo and the waters around it, have played host to an additional 5 SLBM tests. These 6 total tests have composed almost a quarter of the total missile tests carried out by North Korea in the past two years. This rapid pace of testing separates Sinpo and the North Korean SLBM program from other missile programs run by the DPRK.

Sources:
[1] “North Korea’s Ballistic Missile Submarine: Probable Post-Missile Test Maintenance; Construction Hall Externally Complete,” 38 North, 20 July 2016, www.38north.org.
[2] Chad O’Carroll, “North Korea test fires a submarine-launched ballistic missile,” NK News, 23 August 2016, www.NKNews.org.
[3] Ankit Panda, “How Far Along Are North Korea's Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles?” The Diplomat, 11 January 2016, www.TheDiplomat.com
[4] Ankit Panda, “A First: North Korea Tests 'Polaris-1' SLBM,” The Diplomat, 10 May 2015, www.TheDiplomat.com.

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