A North Korean People’s Navy submarine is missing and presumed sunk, a U.S. official told on Friday.
The unknown class of submarine was operating off the North Korean coast in the last several days when the submarine went missing.
The official was reluctant to give specific details on the presumed loss of the boat due to sensitivities on how the military was tracking the vessel.
A second U.S. official confirmed the basic facts of the missing submarine.
Though U.S. officials would not confirm the details of where the ship went down, USNI News understands it was likely near one of North Korea’s two submarine bases on the Sea of Japan, also called the East Sea, Joe Bermudez, an analyst focusing on North Korea and advisor to the website 38 North from the U.S.- Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, told USNI News on Friday.
North Korea has two primary submarine bases on the its eastern coast in addition to three smaller facilities for costal and midget submarines, Bermudez said.
The North Korean military operates a fleet of about 70 submarines ranging in sizes from midget boats with only a few sailors to larger boats that can hold a crew of up to 30 or 40 and attempted a modernization push since the early 2000s.
According to Bermudez, the submarines are of “reasonable quality” and much or their equipment isn’t military grade but civilian material repurposed for military uses.
However, “they have many problems with maintenance – levels of maintenances standards are lower than most comparable navies in East Asia,” he said.