Ballistic Missiles

Sinpo South Shipyard Update: North Korea Moves Submersible Missile Test Stand Barge

Close-up view of the floating dry dock and the secure boat basin at the Sinpo South Shipyard, as of 3:40 PM KST, April 6, 2021. (Copyright © 2021 by Planet)

Key Findings

  • A Maxar Technologies satellite image collected at 11:09 AM KST on April 6 shows that North Korea is moving its submersible missile test barge located at the Sinpo South Shipyard.
  • A search of a partial Planet image of the Sinpo area collected at 3:40 PM KST on April 6 shows that the barge has left the secure boat basin to the floating dry dock in front of the construction hall.
  • As no missile canister is visible onboard the submersible missile test barge, this movement does not indicate an imminent submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test.
  • Probable reasons for this movement include:
    • Preparations for a forthcoming submarine launched ballistic missile test.
    • Movement of the test stand for maintenance, repairs, or installation of equipment.
  • The movement of the test stand barge, and the implied threat of renewed SLBM testing (potentially of a Pukkuksong-4 or -5), would present significant challenges to the new U.S. administration of President Biden and the administration of South Korean President Moon.
  • Further reporting on the overall Sinpo South Shipyard will follow.
Overview of the secure boat basin and the floating dry dock at the Sinpo South Shipyard, as well as the submersible test stand barge, towed by a small support vessel, as of 11:09 AM KST, April 6, 2021. (Copyright © 2021 by Maxar Technologies)
Overview of the secure boat basin at the Sinpo South Shipyard and the submersible test stand barge, towed by a small support vessel, as of 11:09 AM KST, April 6, 2021. (Copyright © 2021 by Maxar Technologies)
Close-up view of the floating dry dock at the Sinpo South Shipyard, as of 3:40 PM KST, April 6, 2021. (Copyright © 2021 by Planet)