How Big Is the North Korean Navy?

big-north-korean-navy Credit: ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

A U.S. Department of Defense report estimates the size of the North Korean Navy at 60,000 personnel, a significant reduction from the 148,000 member force reported in 1999. The Korean People’s Navy also consists of approximately 730 fighting vessels.

These vessels include 70 submarines, 420 patrol and combat boats, 260 amphibious vessels, 30 mining vessels and 30 support ships. Analysts describe the KPN as a “brown water navy” because its vessels do not have the ability to travel beyond 50 kilometers of the established military exclusion zone.

The submarine fleet consists mostly of outdated, but well equipped ROMEO-class vessels that have the ability to block shipping lanes, plant mines and launch missile and torpedo attacks, despite their lack of speed. Intelligence reports from 2015 confirm a steady increase in the number of attack vessels armed with anti-ship and anti-surface missiles that have a range of up to 95 kilometers.