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Naval Redeployments Planned

Posted October. 06, 2007 05:39,   


The redeployment of navy units of South and North Korea will be inevitable in order to establish the “West Sea Peace and Cooperation Special Zone” that was agreed on at the Joint Agreement after the 2007 inter-Korean Summit. That is because ever since the conflicts in Yeonpyeong in 1999 and in the West Sea in 2002 took place, the navies of both countries are concentrated in this area to prevent further military confrontations.

Haeju Port, to which the two sides agreed to open a direct route, is where 60% of North Korea’s West Sea Command’s fleet is based, including a guided missile cruiser, torpedo boats, and dozens of naval vessels.

The guided missile cruiser is loaded with Styx ship-to-ship missiles with a target range of more than 40km and has great mobility, which allows it to wage war against the reconnaissance vessels and destroyers of the South.

Dozens of torpedo boats and patrol ship are deployed at Sa and Bipa Points where the North’s West Sea Command’s Navy Fleet are stationed and one submarine is stationed at the Nampo Port.

Missiles and coastal artillery are also formidable threats. Quite a few Silkworm surface-to-ship missiles with a target range of around 90km, and coastal artillery with a target range of around 20km are deployed in and around the West Sea, including Nampo and Haeju Ports. Silkworm missiles can reach as far as Deokjeok Island in the West Sea.

When the military conflicts took place in the West Sea in 2002, a Southern patrol ship was chasing a patrol boat of the North that waged a surprise attack on Southern coastal defense ship, but gave up when it detected a possible Silkworm missile launch by the North. The South Korean Navy said that it did so in order to prevent the incident from developing into a full-blown war.

Experts think that the concentration of Navy forces by the North in the West Sea is aimed at preventing the South from encroaching on the North, and waging a surprise attack against the metropolitan area in the event of war. They also believe that North Korean naval commander Kim In Chol, one of the most influential people in the North’s military, is also is linked to the power concentration.

The South Korean Navy places extra emphasis on defending the West Sea and the areas around the NLL as it is directly related to defending Seoul and its vicinity. The Second Naval Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi and Yeha Incheon Coast Guard Command guard the NLL with reconnaissance boats and patrol boats 24/7. On Baekryeong Island, located at the northernmost point of South Korea, ten K-9 self-propelled guns are deployed within range of the North’s navy brigade and coastal artillery deployed in the Haeju area. A naval infantry regiment is stationed on Yeonpyeong Island.

One military official said, “At the inter-Korean defense ministers’ meeting due to be held in Pyongyang, a redeployment and reduction of navy forces in order to establish the West Sea Peace Zone can be discussed. It remains to be seen whether the military leaders will follow through what was agreed to between the two leaders.”