North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered the mass production of “high-speed boats” equipped with torpedoes during a visit to Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province in July this year, report sources in the country.
“As Kim was conducting an on-the-spot visit to Chongjin, he told a group of 2nd Economic Committee [North Korea’s military-related sector] officials that they need to produce a lot of high-speed boats,” said a source in North Hamgyong Province on November 22. “He said the country’s Soviet-made torpedo boats are so worn out that only a few actually operate, so they need to build a lot of new ones.”
Kim appears to be referring to the Very Slender Vessel (VSV) equipped with torpedoes that North Korean announced it had developed in 2015.
North Korean high-speed boats are generally equipped with 12.7mm or 14.5mm guns, but according to the regime, the VSV has a 30mm gun together with room for torpedoes. The VSV has a pointed front and pierces through waves.
“High-speed boats are being made in the Chongjin Shipyard in Sunam District,” said the source. “Boat engines are being made in the No. 129 Factory in Songpyong District.”
Both the Chongjin Shipyard and No. 129 Factory are affiliated with the 2nd Economic Committee. The shipyard builds patrol boats and six-seater half-submarine attack vessels, while the No. 129 Factory produces sheets of aluminum and steel and parts for torpedoes.
“Kim Jong Un has ordered the engines for high-speed boats be produced at the No. 129 Factory. He has handed down an order for the factory to produce 10 of these engines per month,” said a separate source in North Hamgyong Province.
“The No. 129 Factory produced supplemental engines for Russian-made torpedo vessels in the past. Now it makes parts for the VSV.”
Kim’s order for VSV production suggests he is trying to produce military-related parts domestically, a theme he has emphasized on a regular basis.
Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on November 7 that Kim Jong Un visited the [Chongjin] shipyard to understand the structure, tactical and technical data and weapons installed in the combat vessels made there, stating that the “shipyard has created combat vessels that have outstanding maneuverability and firing capabilities, and that they will make the country’s naval forces even stronger.”