Post-SLBM Test Activity at the Sinpo South Shipyard
- Satellite imagery collected on May 15 and 24 provides the first views of the secure boat basin, where the 8.24 Yongung experimental ballistic missile submarine (SSBA) and the submersible missile test stand barge are berthed since the SLBM test launch on May 7.
- Compared to images collected prior to the test launch, the new images show the submersible missile test stand barge has exchanged positions with the infiltration mothership once again. Whether this movement directly results from the recent SLBM test is unknown.
- The lack of reporting from North Korean state media on the launch is curious but should not be understood as an indicator that the recent launch was a failure.
Satellite images of the Sinpo South Shipyard collected on May 15 and 24 provide the first views of the secure boat basin since the SLBM test launch from the area on May 7. The 8.24 Yongung (August 24th Hero) experimental ballistic missile submarine (SSBA), submersible missile test stand barge, and an infiltration mothership are berthed at the secure boat basin. In the May 15 image, the only significant change from those noted in our pre-SLBM test May 2 report is that the submersible missile test stand barge has once again exchanged positions with the infiltration mothership. Whether this movement directly results from the recent SLBM test is unknown. A second image collected on May 24 shows no additional changes of significance.
South Korean reporting on the recent May 7 SLBM test indicates that the missile was launched from the 8.24 Yongung SSBA, which was damaged in a previous test launch in October 2021 and repaired. Notably, as of May 19, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) has not reported on the May 7 SLBM test launch. Some have speculated this signifies that the test was a failure. This, however, is too forward-leaning of an assessment.
It is unclear whether the launch was a test of an improved or new model of an SLBM. North Korea has displayed a smaller apparent SLBM during the October 2021 Defense Development Exhibition ‘Self-Defense-2021’—the same type which is believed to have been tested in an SLBM launch in the same month—or what appears to be a new variant in the Pukguksong family displayed during the April 25 parade.
Elsewhere at the Sinpo South Shipyard
No significant activity was observed in the imagery from both dates at the two construction halls, large fabrication hall, open-air parts yard, inclined repair way, pop-up test stand, gas plant, and administration, engineering, and support buildings throughout the Sinpo South Shipyard. The May 24 image shows that repair and expansion activity continue on the unfinished L-shaped pier at the southern end of the Yuktaeso Peninsula.
The May 15 image does not cover the graving dock at the Sinpo Shipyard. However, an image collected on May 11 shows only commercial fishing vessels present, and the May 24 image shows that all but one fishing vessel has departed the graving dock.