North Korea is in the completion stage of building a sprawling naval base near the tense sea border with South Korea, a high-level government source said Sunday, a facility capable of housing about 60 air-cushioned vessels that can be used for infiltration attacks.
South Korea spotted air-cushioned vessels and hangar-shaped buildings at the naval base that has been under construction in Goampo in the North’s Hwanghae Province, the source said. The base is about 50 kilometers from South Korea’s northernmost island of Baengnyeong.
There are about 60 storage buildings at the base capable of housing 60 air-cushioned vessels. The North is expected to deploy air-cushioned boats and battleships there starting next month, the source said.
North Korea has two types of air-cushioned boats. One of them is the 35-ton class Gongbang II that can travel at a speed between 74-96 km per hour, and the other is the 20-ton class Gongbang III that can travel up to 96 km per hour.
The North’s 170-ton class air-cushioned battleship is equipped with 57 mm and 30 mm guns.
“South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities are keeping a close eye on the Goampo base,” another source said. “In particular, the military is trying to draw up countermeasures based on an assessment that the North will use the Goampo naval base for surprise infiltration” attacks.
The western sea border has been a constant source of military tension between the two Koreas. Tension in the area has risen further after the North sank a South Korean warship and bombarded a South Korean island near the border last year.