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"Interdicting North Korean Shipping" Topic

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian20 Oct 2017 8:39 p.m. PST

North Korea claims more than 600 miles of straight baseline coast and has scores of ports and waterways, every one of which must be monitored 24/7 to be successful. The level of effort and number of vessels required will be at least an order of magnitude greater than U.S. operations in the Arabian Gulf.


Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2017 12:53 p.m. PST

Interdicting shipping is generally held to be an act of war. These sort of things are not to be undertaken lightly.

SouthernPhantom21 Oct 2017 9:12 p.m. PST

piper909, I'm hearing some chatter that things are warmer in the Korean Peninsula than we were previously told. There is unofficial word from some folks in the Trump administration that Americans should now be looking at removing personal assets from the ROK. Only SECDEF is now opposed to taking action.

Lion in the Stars21 Oct 2017 11:49 p.m. PST

@Piper909, there is still a state of war on the Korean peninsula. The war 'ended' with a truce/temporary cease-fire, not a peace treaty, back in 1953.

But yes, actually interdicting shipping is an act of war. Ordinarily, I'd be all for turning SUBPAC loose on the issue, but most of the coastal traffic isn't large enough to be worth a Mk48 torpedo (and submarines don't have anything smaller). A 100-200 ton 'fishing boat' isn't worth a $2 USDmil torpedo, when said torpedo is designed to one-shot 10,000+ton ships.

It'd be a great reason for the USN to buy IDAS missiles (where you can carry 8 missiles in the same volume as 1 Mk48), and even better to install the Muraena gun mast (30mm caseless autocanno), though that would be an even bigger project than the missiles.

Plus, you'd need to put just about every submarine in the Pacific Ocean on that interdiction job, and we need submarines to be doing more than that.

ROUWetPatchBehindTheSofa22 Oct 2017 8:22 a.m. PST

Is there actually a lot of NKs international merchant marine left? The vessel recently picked up supplying weapons to the Egyptians, under a flag of convenience (I forget which), was reported as being very much on its last legs. And there can't be that many ports globally, which wouldn't act if the US requested a vessel be held? I'd also point out if you're merchant ships are decrepit they're going to break down and you don't get to choose where that is!

Lion in the Stars22 Oct 2017 5:05 p.m. PST

I was referring to coastal traffic, though that limits the Norks to Far East Russia or China for sources.

bsrlee23 Oct 2017 6:31 a.m. PST

A couple of years ago Australia 'interdicted' a medium sized NorK 'fishing boat' about half way down the Australian east coast (near Wollongong for those interested) – it was stuffed full of drugs.

ROUWetPatchBehindTheSofa23 Oct 2017 1:07 p.m. PST

Given that NKs principle source of foreign currency seems to be arms, and basically supporting the military equivalent of abandonware, I can't see Russia or China as clients or indeed NK wanting either countries nose in their business – they may be complicit but its at least in part on the basis of plausible deniability. Also their coastal fleet is probably also 9/10 iron oxide and with the land borders I'd would think local coastal traffic is a bit of a moot point. I'd also suggest that whatever the current status quo nosing about in NKs territorial waters could be politically problematic – with a high risk of embarrassment if you actually managed to loose a vessel accidently or otherwise.

The author of the article talks about an NK ship going north around Russia to Norway, but once there they are in busy international waters again. And their major arms clients are in Africa and the Mid East.

Frankly given their involvement in the dodgy end of the global arms trade, with starter dossier for ten, you could probably get anti-arms trade NGOs to do a lot of leg work from commercial data sources!

I've certainly read a number of media stories, which have suggested that NK is into smuggling and other black market activities to raise cash. Something which suggests they are pretty desperate.

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