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North Korea unveils new submarine Hero Kim Kun Ok.

| 2023

According to an article by NKNews on September 6, 2023, North Korea unveiled its new submarine "Hero Kim Kun Ok", qualified as "tactical" designated with hull number 841, during a ceremony at the Sinpho shipyard located on the east coast of the country. This development has raised international interest due to its potential implications.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 The new North Korean submarine "Hero Kim Kun Ok". (Picture source: KCNA)

Originally a Soviet-era Romeo-class diesel-electric attack submarine dating back to the 1950s, the "Hero Kim Kun Ok" submarine is not a completely new creation but the result of an extensive conversion process.

Kim Jong Un's modernization strategy, termed "low-cost ultra-modernization," centers on upgrading existing assets to maximize their operational effectiveness.

Despite its impressive capabilities, substantial uncertainties surround the submarine's operational readiness, particularly regarding its ability to effectively launch nuclear-capable missiles, a crucial aspect of its mission.

The unveiling of the submarine "Hero Kim Kun Ok" marks a significant development in North Korea's pursuit of enhanced naval capabilities, while the exact operational status and capabilities of this vessel remain uncertain.

About the Romeo-class

The submarine has a displacement of 1,475 tons when surfaced and 1,830 tons when submerged. She measures 76.6 meters in length, 6.7 meters in beam, and has a draught of 5.2 meters.

Propulsion is provided by two diesel engines delivering 2.94 MW (4000 shp) and two electric motors driving two shafts, allowing her to reach speeds of 15.2 knots when surfaced and 13 knots when submerged.

The submarine boasts an impressive range of 14,484 kilometers at 9 knots. She accommodates a crew of 54 personnel, including 10 officers, and is equipped with sonar and radar systems for sensing and processing information.

Additionally, it features electronic warfare and decoy capabilities through the MRP 11-14 system. In terms of armament, the submarine is armed with 8 × 533 mm (21-inch) torpedo tubes, with six located in the bow and two in the stern. She can carry 14 × 533 mm (21-inch) anti-ship or anti-submarine torpedoes, including Yu-4 and Yu-1 torpedoes, or 28 mines.

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