Unusual Movement of the 8.24 Yongung Experimental Ballistic Missile Submarine at Sinpo South Shipyard
- Satellite image collected on March 22 shows unusual movement of the 8.24 Yongung (August 24th Hero) experimental ballistic missile submarine (SSBA) within the secure boat basin.
- The exact purpose for moving the submarine is unknown, but it is likely related to ongoing modifications, continued repair work, preparations for an upcoming submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test, a component of a strategic deception plan, or a combination of these and other reasons.
- The 8.24 Yongung plays a critical role in the under-way development of SLBMs, ballistic missile submarine technology, and operational procedures. It is also an indispensable tool for the hands-on training of new submariners.
Eight satellite images collected from February 16 through March 27 provide insights into the ongoing activity at the Sinpo South Shipyard, including the unusual movement of the 8.24 Yongung (August 24th Hero) experimental ballistic missile submarine (SSBA) on March 22.
A satellite image collected on February 24 shows the secure boat basin in much the same state as seen in our previous report, with the 8.24 Yongung SSBA presumed to be under the canopy, the submersible missile test stand berthed along the south pier, and the infiltration mothership alongside the dock. The telescoping crane previously observed adjacent to the infiltration mothership is no longer present. However, an unidentified object is present dockside. The telescoping crane and unidentified object have not been observed again in any more recent imagery.
An image collected four weeks later, on March 22, shows the 8.24 Yongung SSBA being pulled, stern first, out from underneath the canopy by a small harbor tug. An image collected the following day, March 23, shows the status of the secure boat basin similar to that of early-March status with the 8.24 Yongung SSBA—presumed to be under the canopy, the submersible missile test stand (with small harbor tug tied up alongside) berthed along the south pier, and the infiltration mothership alongside the dock. There is no evidence to indicate that the 8.24 Yongung SSBA had been moved the previous day. The fact that the small harbor tug is now tied up alongside the submersible missile test stand suggests that the tug may again be used to assist with the movement of the 8.24 Yongung SSBA in the near future. Imagery from March 27, show the secure boast basin as it was on March 23.
The purpose was for moving the 8.24 Yongung SSBA on March 22 is unknown. Among the more likely explanations are:
- Movement of the submarine related to ongoing modifications or continued repair work
- Movement of the submarine from under the canopy and into one of the construction halls for modification or continued repair
- Preparations for an upcoming submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test
- A component of a strategic deception plan
- A combination of these and other reasons
Concurrent with these developments, the floating dry dock, which is usually berthed on the pier 300 meters to the south of the construction halls, was moved adjacent to the launching ways of the larger construction hall sometime between February 16, 2022, and February 24, 2022. The last time such activity was observed was during April 2021. The floating dry dock was observed here again in imagery from March 9, 2022, and March 22, 2022. Imagery acquired on the following day, on March 23, shows that the floating dry dock had been moved back to a position along the pier to the south. Sometime between March 23 and March 27 the floating dry dock was once again moved to a position adjacent to the launching ways of the larger construction hall. As with the 8.24 Yongung SSBA, the purpose of these movements is unknown.
Elsewhere at the Sinpo South Shipyard
No significant activity was observed in the imagery from February 16 through March 24 at the two construction halls, large fabrication hall, open-air parts yard, inclined repair way, pop-up test stand, gas plant, or administration, engineering, unfinished maintenance hall at the southern end of the Yuktaeso Peninsula, or support buildings throughout the Sinpo South Shipyard.
Sinpo Shipyard Graving Dock
Further to the northeast, during the past two months, the graving dock at the Sinpo Shipyard has remained active, with commercial and fishing vessels being present for varying lengths of time.