This thread it’s a preserved version of latest updated page on the currently (hopefully not forever) closed forum “Soviet-empire”. Years ago I begun a process of reading, studying and researching entirely for hobby/amateur interest the history of naval warfare involving the Soviet Union. Years by years, my interests expanded to other conflicts (Russian and Spanish Civil Wars, Cold War conflicts etc.) often poorly described in mainstream media and sites. It doesn’t claim to be definitive or error-free, but I believe it’s valuable or interesting for people curious to see aspects of less known naval warfare (especially in English). This and my other works can be obviously used or re-posted for not-commercial purpose on other sites/forums, I've sadly seen how there is some commercial exploitation (publications of few books i am absolutely not involved at all!). Obviously these "authors" probably never checked the original sources or bothered to notice how each of these works it's not immutable and sometimes changes and corrections happens after years.
SOURCES: Official data (books, articles) coming from the DPRK focusing on the Korean People’s Navy are almost not existing in the web!
Out of necessity, this text make use almost entirely on South Korean and Western sources retaining a neutral stance.
It should be stressed that US/South Korean sources have their good degree of mistakes out of wartime propaganda, reguarly and uncritically quoted by modern sources.
Of noteworth interest, the so-called "Battle of Korea Strait" it's completely wrong as commonly portrayed (no North Korean ship sunk or even present, it was a SOVIET vessel!), as well as the destruction of "supply-boats" during the War (in some case just civilian fishing boats), or the claim that KPN sunk or detained many South Korean fishing boats post-war while modern data indicate that a good number were likely spy-crafts or infiltration vessels.
Cross-referencing with Soviet/Russian data (including the works of by (c)Alexander Rosin on the Russian blog http://alerozin.narod.ru ).
Extra details over American and allied losses by mines (albeit with conflicting reports of dates and casualties) from Stephan D.Blanto thesis, Yasuzo Ishimaru and Tessa Morris-Suzuki papers for Japanese sea casualties during the Korean War.
Most of international media use the term “North Korea” opposed to “South Korea” to describe the two countries. Formally, both nations claim to be full legit representative of the Korean people. The text widely use the official naming "Korean People’s Navy" focusing mostly on their operations while retaining a neutral stance on military affairs.
The text do NOT include the numerous shelling operations committed by US Navy and its allies with response of KPA ground artillery: in numerous occasions ships targeted suffered light to moderate damages
List of differences/updates compared to the latest updated page on the Soviet-empire forum:
1) Added episode of American(on loan)/South Korean ship defection on 29/Aug/49
2) Added a clarification for the Battle of Korea Strait: it's actually possible the Soviet vessel was on a covert/intelligence-gathering operation
3) A number of South Korean vessels alleged sinking of numerous targets during the Korean War has now the words "claim to have"/"claim to have sunk": as mentioned above, there is only South Korean version of each incident, with no mention of the possibility they targeted civilian/fishing vessels.
4) Added the Massacre of Pohang on civilians, committed by the US Navy on 1 September 1950 and disclosed by same American sources.
5) Added the loss of South Korean landing ship ROKS Munsan on 14/September/50
6) The two alleged air losses of Il-10/Yak-9 aircrafts on 17/Sept/50 and 15/Apr/51 are now stated as "claims": there is no visual proof or confirmation of their actual loss, in wartimes sometimes aircrafts claimed as shot-down by ships simply fly away from the AA fire, maybe in damaged status but without crashing.
7) Added location of mining of two US ships in September 1950
8) Additional details for the loss of Thai frigate Prasae on 7/Jan/51
9) Added location of mining of USS Patridge on 2/Feb/51
10) Added new action: attack on ROKS Amnokgang on 15/Apr/1951
11) Added loss and clarification of n°26 Olbbaemi on 28/Sept/52
12) Added unproved Soviet claim of another enemy loss on April 1953 (possibly a minor craft)
1) Added incident on 2 June 1965
2) Added names, casualties and details of the two South Korean vessels lost on 15/Febr/74
3) Added details on incident 26/Febr/75 (South Korean admission to have sunk a civilian craft)
4) Added identity of South Korean vessel that claimed victory on 24/Apr/86
5) Added name of South Korean boat captured on 1/Jan/87
6) During 1996 incident, corrected "Sango" into "Sang-O" submarine
7) Added identity of South Korean vessel that claimed victory on 22/Jun/98
8) Added identity of South Korean vessel that claimed victory on 18/Dec/98
9) Some fixes in description of the First Battle of Yeonpyeong
10) Added capture of an US unmanned spy-craft on 2004 (unclear date)
Before the Korean War
7 May 1948
South Korean minesweeper ROKS Tongcheon defected and joined the Korean People’s Navy.
15 May 1948
South Korean minesweeper ROKS Gowon defected and joined the Korean People’s Navy.
11 May 1949
South Korean minesweeper ROKS Gangwha defected and joined the Korean People’s Navy.
10 August 1949
The personal private yacht of American General William L. Roberts seized and took to North. Details of the action (clearly for political propaganda purpose) are unclear but appears leftist South Koreans made it by to mock the US military forces in the country.
17 August 1949
After the seizure of General Roberts’ yacht, the South Korean dictator Syngman Rhee personally ordered the Navy to retrieve the seized boat
South Korean patrol ship ROKS Chungmugong I, the larger minesweeper ROKS Gwangju and the smaller ROKS Daejeon, ROKS Tongyeong, ROKS Dancheon and ROKS Daedonggang departed for the mission. They failed in finding the yacht and clashed with five KPN patrol boats, and ROKS Tongyeong blocked and captured boat n°18 (5 crewmembers POWs).
The mission angered the Americans, with the US Ambassador demanding punishment to the commander (because was an open intrusion and hostile actions in the north). Given the small crew and size (35 tons) it appears likely the KPN patrol boat was a small motorboat.
29 August 1949
American merchant Kimball R. Smith, at the time on loan to the South Korean government, was officially employed for training purposes when the Korean crew mutinied, took control of the ship, and defected to the North. The ship reached Nampo on 29 August (some sources say 22 August), where received a solemn political greeting and crowd celebration. Two American officers (captain and chief engineer) who were onboard took prisoners, eventually released.
25 June 1950
Korean People’s Navy convoy of 20 landing schooners escorted by 2 submarine chasers and 1 minesweepers landed troops in Kangnung. Another convoy, escorted by 2 minesweepers, 1 patrol ship and 1 submarine chasers, landed troops near Samcheok. Western sources report South Korean minesweeper ROKS Gapyeong attempted to prevent the landing, but fought and was forced to withdraw by Korean People’s Navy minesweeper n°31 near Okgye (Gapyeong claimed to have sunk 2 landing schooners). The brief clash was one of the rare direct gunnery fights of the War ending into a North’s success.
According Soviet sources, reports of this incident are wrong: minesweeper n°31 engaged in battle on 29 June and no schooner was lost in action on 25 June. However, it is possible that indeed ROKS Gapyeong briefly engaged a Korean People’s Navy escort unit before retreating.
Night of 25/26 June 1950
Battle of Korea Strait
A long-lasting story of the Western and South Korean propaganda history of the Korean war was the alleged interception and sinking from South Korean submarine chaser ROKS Baekdusan Korean People’s Navy armed troop transport. The alleged ship from the North was on a supposed mission to land hundreds of troops… in the most southern harbor of South Korea while the ground campaign was at the beginning.
In reality the South Korean submarine chaser ROKS Baekdusan encountered the Soviet cable-ship Plastun on passage from Vladivostok to Port Arthur with passengers and cargo (timber and communication equipment). After chasing for a while the Soviet ship, the south Koreans opened fire just after midnight inflicting damages with one shell directly hit the bridge of Plastun; commander Lieutenant Commander Kolesnikov was mortally wounded, 2 others died and 11 wounded (four of them seriously). While he was still conscious, commander gave order to return fire with the ship’s 45mm: ROKS Baekdusan was also hit and pulled back (officially reported 2 KIA and 2 WIA).
The political will to avoid an extension of the conflict to the Soviets made the whole story unknown until recent times: while this is left unsaid it’s possible that Plastun was involved in some covert intelligence-gathering mission.
29 June 1950
Battle of Gangneung
Korean People’s Navy minesweeper n°31 escorted a small convoy that landed supplies at Gangneung, when she engaged the South Korean minesweeper ROKS Dumangang, sinking her. Most of Western sources usually claim the South Korean minesweeper was sunk by friendly fire action from American cruiser USS Juneau, but the official report of nearby destroyer USS De Haven witnessed the KPN minesweeper fleeing from the scene while the damaged ship was burning: the US destroyer determined the burning ship could not be salvaged. ROKS Dumangang was actually escorting a small transport, possibly the real target of the friendly-fire incident mentioned by USS Juneau. Ironically, the South Korean radio reported after the incident that a Soviet cruiser operating in the area sank their minesweeper!
On the same day,
Korean People’s Air Force attack planes raided the port of Inchon sinking 11 boats of small size (likely most were motorboats or junks).
Details of the action and losses are unclear, but seems it was the most effective anti-ship air raid committed by the aerial forces.
2 July 1950
Battle of Jumunjin.
The most famous naval action of the Korean War, the only direct attack attempted by Korean People’s Navy ships to use offensive motor torpedo boats.
A group of four motor torpedo boats attacked the American cruiser USS Juneau, the British cruiser HMS Jamaica and the frigate HMS Black Swan.
The attack was courageous but spotted in advance and no torpedo hit the targets: return fire sunk or destroyed the motor torpedo boat n°22, n°23 and n°24 (two units directly sunk, one grounded and lost) while n°21 survived even if suffered damages.
Korean People’s Navy wrongly believed to have hit and sunk the American heavy cruiser USS Baltimore (she was not involved in the war), while USS Juneau was damaged.
This action was widely reported by the DPRK war propaganda: Kim Kun Ok, commander of n°21 (who claimed sinking the Baltimore) was awarded.
After the main engagement, the Allied units intercepted and sunk two submarine chasers (small OD-200 soviet class).
American sources believe all the ships were somewhere part of a convoy, but Soviet sources report the motor torpedo boat attack was planned: unrelated to the patrol boats movements.
3 July 1950
South Korean minesweeper ROKS Gimcheon claim to have intercepted and sunk a convoy of three schooners carrying supplies.
On the same day, the American cruiser USS Juneau claim to have sunk a group of seven fishing trawlers. Two Korean People's Army Air Force Il-10 planes attacked the British frigate HMS Black Swan, inflicting minor damage.
4 July 1950
American aircrafts from USS Valley Forge attacked targets on Taedong River: apart inflicting some damages (bridges, locomotives), they also attacked and reportedly damaged some small boats on the river. Three Douglas A-1 Skyyrider suffered some damages by flak, while a fourth (damaged) crashed on deck of aircraft carrier destroying two Vought F-4U Corsair. There is no evidence supporting damage inflicted by the riverine crafts and it was more likely ground flak.
On the same day, other American aircrafts strafed a ship travelling from Nampo to Hwanghae, inflicting 33 casualties among passengers (both killed and wounded).
22 July 1950
South Korean minesweeper ROKS Gimcheon claim to have sunk three small ships.
23 July 1950
South Korean minesweeper ROKS Daejeon (ex-Japanese) engaged in a firefight with a Korean People’s Navy vessel. Unclear details.
27 July 1950
South Korean submarine chasers ROKS Geumgangsan and ROKS Samgaksan intercepted a convoy and claim to have sunk 12 small sailing vessels (reportedly carrying ammunition).
2 August 1950
British destroyer HMS Cockade and HMS Cossack bombarded the Mokpo harbor and sunk one steamer. They believed the harbor to host many ship, but an American Neptune aircraft on recce mission later identified only the single target as only shipping presence in the harbor.
3 August 1950
South Korean minesweeper ROKS Gyeongju claim to have sunk seven sailing boats.
7 August 1950
South Korean minesweeper ROKS Gyeongju claim to have sunk two motorboats.
Unidentified South Korean warships claim to have sunk other four small vessels.
12 August 1950
American aircrafts bombed and sunk a steamboat sailing from Nampo to Hwanghae with heavy casualties: 44 killed and 8 wounded.
14 August 1950
Six British Supermarine Seafire and six Fairey Firefly attacked in Nampo a minesweeper, a larger merchant (approx. 2000tons) and a smaller merchant (approx. 800 tons) damaging all the three ships.
15 August 1950
South Korean minesweeper ROKS Gwangju encountered a large convoy of 45 small ships and claim to have destroyed it: 15 small vessels sunk and 30 crafts surrendered.
While details are unclear, it seems likely these were very small sailing crafts and rafts tied to each other’s.
16 August 1950
A unique anti-aircraft naval victory occurred near Chinnampo, when an American Lockheed P2V-3 Neptune aircraft (serial n° 122940) attacked Korean vessels with 20mm. Return-fire from one ship (according Americans it was light machine-gun fire) scored hit on starboard engine that pulled away: the aircraft ditched in open sea and was lost but whole crew rescued by British cruiser HMS Kenya. It is unclear if the plane was brought down by KPN warship escaped earlier losses or it was hit by an auxiliary vessel.
On the same day,
American aircrafts strafed a group of 8 fishing boats in Cholsan county, sinking 4 fishing boats and killing 3 civilians.
19 August 1950
Three British Supermarine Seafire from HMS Triumph carrier attacked and sunk two armed junks (one of 150tons with artillery and anti-aircraft weapons).
Between 20 and 21 August 1950
South Korean minesweeper ROKS Gwangju claim to have sunk a motorboat, captured another motorboat and damaged a third one.
22 August 1950
British destroyer HMS Comus was attacked by a pair of Il-10, suffering light damages with 1 KIA.
Another attack the following day against an unidentified South Korean minesweeper is poorly described by western sources.
25 August 1950
South Korean submarine chaser ROKS Baekdusan claim to have sunk a sailboat.
On the same day, minesweeper ROKS Guwolsan claim to have sunk two motorboats (carrying troops, one 100tons and the second 70tons).
On the same day, minesweeper ROKS Gaeseong claim to have attacked a convoy and damaged 14 small sailboats (of 15).
On the same day, minesweeper ROKS Gilju in three separate clashes claim to have sunk three ships and damaged other eight.
31 August 1950
South Korean submarine chaser ROKS Geumgangsan claim to have sunk two motorboats and damaged a third one.
1 September 1950
Massacre of Pohang
Western sources in recent times declassified official documents stating that the American destroyer USS De Haven on request of the Army command deliberately shelled a refugee camp near Pohang killing between 100 and 200 civilians (mostly women and children). After decades of silence, western sources finally begun to admit these war crimes vaguely motivated for the suspects of “infiltrators” between civilians.
5 September 1950
Two British Fairey Firefly from carrier HMS Triumph attacked and damaged three armed boats (concealed).
Korean People’s Navy forces begun to deploy anti-ships mines especially in the area of Wonsan.
For such operations, apparently only had-hoc converted small junks and boats employed.
There is no official record of names/numbers of these small vessels, nor specific claims of each field that can match with each enemy loss.
Such information (if survived the war) could be in DPRK war literature.
10 September 1950
Close Haeju, one Korean People’s Navy minelayer schooner attacked and sunk by the South Korean submarine chaser ROKS Samgaksan.
13 September 1950
South Korean submarine chaser ROKS Samgaksan claim to have sunk three small boats.
14 September 1950
South Korean forces attempted a landing operation at Jangsa on the East coast, employing the landing ship ROKS Munsan.
Most of soldiers were students who had no information how their mission was a simple distraction from the Inchon landing. The landing ship was caught by typhoon and grounded on the shore in full daylight being observed by the local 12th regiment of the 5th KPA Division. The landed troops’ attack was repelled and they retreated back to the wrecked ship (the captain was killed in action). Five day later, the South Korean survivors rescued thanks the backing of an American task force led by cruiser USS Helena.
Interestingly, while South Korean propaganda claimed to have scored some kind of “victory”, US sources (author Donald W. Boose) make a more realistic description, stating that KPA were not really impaired, and the US Navy had to divert assets from the original missions stating that further similar operations would need to be executed by more experienced men.
While there are no clear details, it seems clear the vessel received a good degree of KPA ground fire after she was stranded.
17 September 1950
While the operations during the Inchon Landing focused from the KPA on the early stiff resistance of Wolmi-do Island batteries (they inflicted damages to three destroyers, buying time for the defense Inchon), the operation saw also a desperate attempt of a couple of aircraft to attack the large fleet amassed by the enemy. An Il-10 attack aircraft escorted by a Yak-9 fighter dropped her bombs against the American cruiser USS Rochester. One bomb hit but failed to detonate, the attack aircraft then strafed cruiser HMS Jamaica (wounding 3, one deceased later by wounds), but was then claimed as shot down by the air defense (other western sources indicate HMS Kenya as the target of the strafing attack).
It was one of the two known episodes of Korean War when a Korean People Air Force aircraft was claimed by enemy naval flak.
Between 13 and 18 September, during the Inchon Landing, British aircrafts from carrier HMS Triumph reported damaging two ships (each of 500 tons approx) and several smaller boats.
26 September 1950
American destroyer USS Brush heavily damaged by mine off Tanchon. 13 KIA, 31 WIA.
28 September 1950
South Korean minesweeper ROKS Gapyeong sunk by mine. 1 KIA, 5 WIA, 25 MIA.
30 September 1950
American destroyer USS Mansfield damaged by mine off Changjon. 48 WIA, 5 MIA.
29 September 1950
American minesweeper USS Magpie sunk by mine north of Pohang. 12 WIA, 21 MIA.
2 October 1950
South Korean minesweeper ROKS Gaeseong damaged by mine off Mokpo. 5 WIA.
12 October 1950
Off the Wonsan Harbor a mixed attack of coastal artillery and use of minefield sunk two American minesweeper, USS Pirate and USS Pledge, while the artillery damaged USS Redhead. Mines and gunfire alike hit both USS Pirate and USS Pledge. 12 Americans were killed and 43 wounded. The Americans claimed success, stating they silenced the guns (quite reasonable they just stopped to fire after having finished the two minesweeper and having used a large chunk of their ammunition).
14 October 1950
British Sea Fury fighters from HMS Theseus damaged one minelayer off Chodo Island and sunk a barge loaded with mines.
17 October 1950
Japanese “on contract” minesweeper MS-14 sunk by mine off Wonsan, 1 crewmember killed, 18 wounded. Interestingly the American avoided to widely reporting the loss in fear of propaganda use from Koreans and own Japanese public opinion. The family of the deceased spoke decades later of threats by the US occupation forces, if they revealed details of the loss.
18 October 1950
South Korean minesweeper ROKS Gonju sunk by mine off Wonsan. 4 KIA, 13 MIA.
15 November 1950
US Army tugboat LT-636 sunk on mine off Wonsan. 30 killed, among them 22 Japanese “contracted workers”. Interestingly (as well for the loss of MS-14), the US forces employed Japanese sailors on contract trying to hide their involvement into the conflict.
6 December 1950
Japanese merchant Senzan Maru (cargo of flour) damaged by mine off Hungnam.
18 December 1950
American sources allegedly reporting how destroyer USS McKean sunk a Soviet submarine with depth charges are completely mistaken.
No Soviet submarine ever operated in nearby proximity of American warships during the Korean War, while American vessels were paranoid over the possible presence of enemy submarines.
7 January 1951.
Ten disguised coastal artillery guns targeted the Thai frigate HTMS Prasae, while sailing alongside the Eastern coast for a routine patrol.
The ship suffered multiple hits and grounded with serious damage, burning as consequences. It was the most significant success of Korean People’s Army coastal defense (alongside the sinking of two American minesweepers on 12 October). Western sources report the ship accidentally grounded and abandoned, but Soviet observers fully backed the Korean People’s Army claim of direct action: it is also possible the ship grounded out of incident while avoiding the shelling. Another possibility it’s the accidental grounding followed by subsequent KPA shelling (NOTE: given it’s significance, this is a rare case of a naval target hit by KPA ground shelling included in this work).
2 February 1951
American minesweeper USS Patridge sunk by mine off Wonsan. 4 KIA, 7 WIA, 4 MIA.
15 April 1951
South Korean frigate ROKS Amnokgang attacked by three Yak-9: she claimed one Yak-9 shot down, but reportedly suffered some damage. Details off the actions are unknown, but activity of piston-engine Yak fighters by 1951 greatly reduced: this was the last reported air-attack committed against an enemy warship.
5 May 1951
South Korean patrol ship JML-306 sunk by mine off Chinnampo. 6 KIA, 18 WIA.
24 May 1951
American cruiser USS Manchester and destroyer USS Brinkley Bass sunk four minelayer schooners. (11 killed, 1 wounded). Each schooner carried 4 M-26 type mines.
12 June 1951
American destroyer USS Walke suffered a powerful explosion and heavy damages with 26 dead and 40 wounded.
Reason for the cause was one of the many Korean People’s Navy mines, some American sources claim there were torpedo-parts allegedly recovered on the ship, but this is unproved: no communist submarine ever engaged in action during the Korean War and no Korean People’s Navy motor torpedo boat was operative at the time of the damage. The destroyer was repaired.
7 October 1951
American destroyer USS Ernest G. Small damaged by mine off Hungnam, 9 KIA and 18 WIA.
26 December 1951
South Korean submarine chaser ROKS Jirisan sunk by mine off Wonsan. Heavy casualties: the entire crew of 80 killed.
28 August 1952.
American fleet tug USS Sarsi sunk by mine off Wonsan (drifting mine broke free from field by typhoon), with 4 KIA, 4 WIA.
16 September 1952
American destroyer USS Barton damaged by mine. 5 KIA, 7 WIA.
22 September 1952
Canadian destroyer HCMS Nootka intercepted, stopped and later sunk a minelayer in the Taedong estuary.
Most of crewmembers escaped by boat, but 5 were stopped and captured.
28 September 1952
South Korean motor torpedo boat n°26 Olbbaemi was lost after a fire in the engine room while she was doing repairs in Jinhae. There is no indication that the loss was caused by nothing more than an incident. Since the beginning of the year, the South Korean Navy engaged their Elco-type motor torpedo boats for raiding/support/small skirmished with KPA artillery. But there is no indication to direct attacks on ships or significant clashes.
End of April 1953
According Soviet sources, one “landing ship” (possibly a minor landing craft) was lost on new mines just laid to protect the waterways north of Hangang river. So far the claim remains unconfirmed, but it’s also possible the enemy employed some kind of junk for infiltration of agents/saboteurs.
18 June 1953
For the first time since the first year of war, a brief surface engagement occurred between a Korean People’s Navy patrol boat and a South Korean patrol boat in Wonsan area. The clash was brief and the Korean People’s Navy vessel pulled back under cover from 105mm coastal artillery. Apparently, no damage reported on both sides.
INCIDENTS AND CLASHES AFTER THE ARMISTICE
28 December 1959
Korean People’s Navy submarine chaser n°205 (project 201 class) attacked the Soviet spy-ship GS-34, inflicting damages and causing 1 killed and 3 wounded.
Soviet sources of the time accused South Korean Navy to be involved, but it is now clear it was a Korean People’s Navy vessel. Reason of the incident are not clear: while it is possible a misidentification (friendly-fire), Russian sources state the attack was deliberate.
It is possible the event caused by an over-zealous behavior of the Korean People’s Navy commander.
2 June 1965
South Korean sources claim that the Korean People’s Navy ship n°571 detained the fishing boat Misaeng off Ongjin peninsula. South Korean submarine chaser ROKS Geumjeongsan recaptured it and was then escorted back by frigate ROKS Gyeongnam and escort destroyer ROKS Gangwon that confronted KPA ships n°473, n°474 and again n°571.
The incident is described only by South Korean sources, currently unclear the exact identity/type of KPN vessels and details of the action (as for subsequent case, the “fishing boat” may as well been in action as infiltration craft).
5 July 1965
A Korean People’s Navy midget-submarine accidentally stranded and then seized by South Koreans on a mission to land agents. Crew and passengers escaped before the boat was discovered.
19 January 1967
South Korean patrol ship ROKS Dangpo entered into the DPRK waters, attacked with coastal artillery and MiG-21 fighter-bombers. The ship sunk with 39 dead and 15 wounded.
South Korean Navy claim the sinking of several infiltration crafts. Little detail and no clear confirmation, but they appears likely in coordination with attempted build-up of communist insurgency in South Korea (ultimately failed).
1-2 June 1967
South Korean batteries fired upon an infiltration craft, and the following day Korean People’s Army batteries fired upon a South Korean patrol boat.
19 June 1967
Korean People’s Army ground forces attempted to seize two alleged South Korean fishing boats: they escaped, but one of them named Hanhungho sunk while on tow due damage suffered. 1 South Korean sailor killed, 2 wounded. After recent South Korean revelations of own infiltration attacks, it appears more likely the boats were indeed infiltration crafts and Korean People’s Army guards fired upon one of them on the shore before or later an attempted infiltration.
20 September 1967
A group of alleged South Korean fishing boats shelled by Korean People’s Army coastal artillery: one fishing boat sunk (one wounded). After recent South Korean revelations of own infiltration attacks, it appears more likely the boats were indeed infiltration crafts and Korean People’s Army guards fired upon one of them on the shore before or later an attempted infiltration.
7 October 1967
A US soldier drowned after fell in water wounded, when an American riverine patrol boat came under gunfire from the shore while sailing in Imjin River.
21 December 1967
Korean People’s Army ground forces attempted to seize a group of South Korean alleged fishing boats: one fishing boat seized and sunk (6 killed). After recent South Korean revelations of own infiltration attacks, it appears more likely the boats were indeed infiltration crafts and Korean People’s Army guards fired upon one of them on the shore before or later an attempted infiltration.
11 January 1968
A Korean People’s Navy vessel sunk one South Korean alleged fishing boat and seized three other fishing boats, taking 20 prisoners.
After recent South Korean revelations of own infiltration attacks carried against DPRK in the earlier decades of post-war (with significant casualties), it appears likely the “fishing boats” lost due “communist aggression” were indeed infiltration crafts on special missions.
23 January 1968
Seizure of USS Pueblo
Korean People’s Navy submarine chaser n°31 (project201 class) of the East Fleet under the command of Pak In Ho (later awarded), with support of three project123K class motor torpedo boats (n°601, n°604 and n°606), attacked the American Spy-ship USS Pueblo, that was damaged with gunfire. Americans suffered 1 KIA, and 82 POW (including 4 WIA) and Korean People’s Navy vessels boarded and seized the vessel, capturing a considerable amount of surveillance’s data seized (crew had time to destroy only a small fraction of it), scoring a significant propaganda and intelligence victory. Today the ship, while still commissioned by the US Navy, kept in Pyongyang as museum-ship (South Korean and American surveillance failed to identify and intercept the KPN moving the ship from the eastern to the western coast, passing Tsushima straits). Interestingly, while the American side still claim the ship operated in international waters, data recovered aboard the ship and passed to the Soviet indicate how the Pueblo deliberately intruded the Soviet (and DPRK) national waters in earlier operations.
23 June 1968
Haeju Bay Raid
South Korean Navy carried an infiltration mission with 15 naval frogmen into the Haeju Bay, supported by three South Korean vessels, to board a specific Korean People’s Navy naval vessel in Yellow Sea, and kidnap (or kill) a key officer. The operation turned a failure, due miscommunications of the different South Korean units and presence of defensive wire obstacles in water, units of the Korean People’s Navy were involved and South Koreans admits the loss of 6 frogmen (2 believed to be captured alive, according South Korean sources). Currently this is one of the few instances known of deliberate South Korean infiltrations in North Korea admitted by South attempting an spec-op frogmen attack on naval vessels (possibly it was a logistic/auxiliary command KPN ship).
20 August 1968
A Korean People’s Navy infiltration craft was intercepted off Cheju Island: 12 agents killed and 2 captured.
4 April 1970
Korean People’s Navy infiltration craft sunk by South Korean forces on the Yellow Sea.
5 June 1970
A pair of Korean People’s Navy patrol boats boarded and captured the South Korean broadcast-vessel I-20 (120 tons) 20 sailors captured.
15 February 1974
Two Korean People’s Navy patrol boats attacked the two South Korean alleged fishing vessels: Suwon-ho n°32 sunk (13 killed, 1 survivor captured) and Suwon-ho n°33 was detained (14 crewmembers captured). According the KPN report, the sunk boat effectively collided against a patrol boat while attempting to evade capture, suffering enough damage to sink. DRPK stated both ships engaged in photographic espionage of military facilities disguised as fishing vessels and revealed confessions of Suwon-ho n°33’s captain.
28 June 1974
South Korean maritime police patrol boat n°863 (a former Japanese ambulance ship), surrounded by three Korean People’s Navy patrol boats: after resisting at seizure, she sunk in action. 26 killed and 2 captured. South Koreans scrambled Phantom fighters to retaliate and sink the North Korean vessels, but they give up after a confrontation with MiG fighters and without observing the ships. While not part of the South Korean Navy (it was Maritime Police), this was indeed the first confirmed (also by western sources) sinking scored by the Korean People’s Navy in naval surface engagement.
26 February 1975
South Korean destroyer ROKS Seul rammed and sunk a DPRK fishing vessel. During the incident both sides engaged aircraft patrols but no clash occurred, some South Korean sources admit the vessel was indeed a fishing boat (rather than claiming it was a spy-boat) but alleged the incident was unintended. Unknown casualties.
28 April 1978
A Korean People’s Navy infiltration craft attacked by a South Korean maritime police patrol boat, suffering 4 KIA.
1 South Korean killed and 4 wounded. Unclear if infiltration craft sunk or seized
21 July 1978
A Korean People’s Navy infiltration craft attacked by a South Korean maritime police patrol boat, suffering 6 KIA.
2 South Korean killed and 1 wounded. Unclear if infiltration craft sunk or seized
21 June 1980
A Korean People’s Navy infiltration craft attacked by a South Korean patrol boat, suffering 9 KIA and 1 POW.
2 South Koreans wounded. Unclear if infiltration craft sunk or seized
1 - 2 December 1980
South Korean forces identified an infiltration craft and destroyed her using an amphibious ship manned by the Army. In the following firefights (lasted until 6 December), 9 agents died (2 apparently killed during the shelling of the infiltration craft) alongside 3 South Korean soldiers (and other 3 wounded).
1 June 1981
A Korean People’s Navy infiltration craft sunk by South Korean coastal artillery, 9 sailors were killed, one was captured. 3 South Koreans killed.
13 August 1983
A Korean People’s Navy infiltration craft was sunk. 5 Killed.
4 December 1983
South Korean forces intercepted and sunk a semi-submersible infiltration craft (named “Gongjag” by south Koreans). 2 agents captured on ground (a second smaller boat that landed them from the mother-ship was found, unclear but likely just an inflatable boat) and 3 are believed to have died when the mother-ship was sunk by Navy and Air Force. Both boats carried heavy weapons including surface-to-air missiles, rockets and many machineguns.
20 October 1985
A Korean People’s Navy infiltration craft sunk by South Korean coastal artillery. At least 2 agents killed.
24 April 1986
A Korean People’s Navy infiltration craft sunk by South Korean corvette ROKS Pohang after a naval engagement. 2 Killed and 4 wounded.
1 January 1986
Korean People’s Navy vessels seized the Japanese fishing vessel Kaisei Maru n°55 for violating the border; however she was released on 17 April.
1 January 1987
Korean People’s Navy patrol boat boarded and captured the South Korean fishing boat Tongjin-ho n°27.
12 crewmembers surrendered without resistance and later reported as deserted (in later incident of 1995 DPRK released South Korean citizens who wished to return).
1 May 1995
A South Korean fishing vessel damaged by a Korean People’s Navy patrol vessel, 3 sailors were killed. 5 others were captured and then released.
17 September 1996 - land fighting lasted until 5 September 1996
A Korean People’s Navy Sang-O Class submarine accidentally grounded on the Southern coast on East Sea in Gangneung. 3 agents were landed on 15 September and submarines was supposed to recover them. The 26 crewmembers and commandos damaged the submarine and attempted to evade capture: 11 sailors committed suicide (or were executed according different source) on the first moments.
Survivors split in pairs and attempted to reach the border, while chased by South Korean soldiers and police: 13 killed in action, 1 capture alive and 1 who managed to cross-back in North Korea.
South Koreans suffered 8 killed in action, 4 deceased in incidents, 27 wounded, additionally also 4 South Korean civilians died.
22 June 1998
A Korean People’s Navy small submarine Yugo Class trapped by nets of South Korean fishing ships.
When the South Koreans towed her, the submarine suddenly sunk (likely scuttled by the crewmembers). Once the wreck was recovered, the 9 crewmembers found dead reportedly with sign of having committed suicide. DPRK press officially claimed the vessel was on a training mission and blamed the South Korean authorities for failing preventing the deaths. South Korean corvette ROKS Gunsan took the submarine on tow, being credited by the South Korean navy for the capture.
18 December 1998
Battle of Yeosu
A Korean People’s Navy semi-submersible infiltration craft of I-SILC class observed the previous day, was chased and sunk by South Korean warships.
Wreck later recovered and 4 crewmembers assumed dead (one body recovered). South Korean credited the corvette ROKS Gwangmyeong for the sinking hits, while ROKS Namwon was also present. DPRK press sources denied the whole event, but there is clear photographic evidence.
15 June 1999
First Battle of Yeonpyeong
Increased tensions over fishing rights and naval borders brought to military confrontation.
Korean People’s Navy dispatched a group including 3 motor torpedo boats (Kusong class), 4 ex-Chinese Type062 class patrol ships, project201 class submarine chasers, multiple small gunboats of Chong-Jin class.
Some sources wrongly list the more powerful gunboats of Taechong class as involved in battle.
South Korean force was more powerful, including small crafts, multiple Chamsuri and the larger and powerful Po Hang class corvettes.
Battle begun with multiple ramming attacks: two Chamsuri attempted to ram on both sides the patrol boat n°381 (Type062) and her crew opened fire with 25mm.
A confused battle at close range begun: one Korean People’s Navy reportedly lost a motor torpedo boat sunk (no actual sinking announced, no South Korean proof of the claim), patrol boat n°684 (project201) suffered some damage and retreated (Western sources claiming she was never repaired are plain mistaken because she was back in action some years later), also two patrol boats suffered damage and two small gunboats (Chong-Jin class) suffered light damages. South Korean sources credits the alleged sinking victory to corvette ROKS Yeongju.
South Korean sources claim Korean People’s Navy suffered heavy casualties: up to 100, including 12, 17, 20 or 30 killed in action (according different sources) in addition to 70 wounded.
These casualties remain unproved and the higher toll is less likely.
South Koreans suffered light damages on the corvette ROKS Cheonan, the patrol boat PKM-325 and four small crafts. Sources disagree on casualties (7, 9 or 11 wounded, probably due including light ones). Korean People’s Navy on their side claimed to have hit at least 10 enemy vessels. Both sides claimed victory, western analysts tends to give victory to South Korea.
22 December 2001
Battle of Amami-Oshima.
Japanese attacked a spy-ship that was operating close to Amami-Oshima, in the ring of Japanese Ryūkyū islands in the Chinese Sea.
The Japanese patrol ships (Japanese Coast Guard vessels) Amami, Kirishima, Inasa e Mizuki attacked and sunk the smaller and less armed spy-ship n°3705 Zhangyu.
Despite the disadvantages, the ship made resistance and caused damage to the Amami and wounding 3 sailors (also anti-tank RPG-7 were used), other light damages due hits occurred on Kirishima and Inasa. Korean People’s Navy crew of 15 died, wreck was later raised and inspected.
29 June 2002
Second Battle of Yeonpyeong
A pair of South Korean patrol boats (PKM-357 and PKM-358 of Chamsuri class) clashed on the contested waters with a pair of Korean People’s Navy patrol boats (n°388 of Chinese Type062 and n°684 of Soviet project201).
During the battle, South Korean patrol boat PKM-357 received three direct hits of 85mm from the n°684 and suffered massive damages. The South Koreans received help from two other Chamsuri (PKM-327 and PKM-358) and 2 Corvettes of Po Hang class (ROKS Cheonan and ROKS Chinhae), but the patrol boat sunk while the Korean People’s Navy retreated north.
During the battle, 6 South Korean sailors (including the commander Yoon Yeong Ha) died and 18 wounded.
South Koreans claims that n°684 received heavy damages but did not sunk. South Korean claims her crew suffered 13 killed and 25 wounded: this is actually difficult to occurs, because crew is 31.
Another South Korean source lower the deceased to 3 or 5 (supposedly including commander Kim Young Sik).
Korean People’s Navy claim to have suffered no damage on n°684 and no casualties suffered. Gunner Seo Ju Cheol of 85mm turret from n°684 received the title of Hero of the Republic.
DPRK claim victory, western analysts tends to label the result as “Inconclusive” but effectively the KPN inflicted more damages scoring a full sinking.
1 November 2004
Short inconclusive clash with no damage between 3 Korean People’s Navy patrol ships against one South Korean patrol boat.
On unclear day, an American sea underwater unmanned vehicle was captured near Hamhung. Obviously at the time the US military strongly denied this information, until the item was put on display in museum and observed by western tourists. Western analysts observing the pictures identified the torpedo-looking object as a NMRS (Near-term mine reconnaissance system) type of craft, a late 90’s design intended to remotely explore and map naval mine fields.
29-30 October 2007
Piracy in Somalia
The DPRK unarmed merchant Dai Hong Dan of 6390t (cargo of sugar directed to India) was seized in Somali waters by a group of 7 pirates heavily armed who disguised as guards. When helicopter from American destroyer USS James E. Williams made a flight over the ship, the 22 sailors took opportunity and assaulted the pirates seizing some weapons.
In the following firefight, the pirates surrendered after 2 died (1 according DPRK sources). 3 sailors suffered wounds and the American destroyer staff provided medical help. This incident proved to be a very uncommon case of cooperation between a DPRK and an American vessel.
10 November 2009
Battle of Daecheong
A group of South Korean ships including a Po Hang Corvette class and 4 Chamsuri patrol boats fought against the lone Korean People’s Navy patrol boat n°383 (of Chinese Type062).
The Chamsuri-class patrol boat PKM-325 was lightly damaged (15 bullet hits), and South Korean claimed that n°383 was heavily damaged. Other South Korean evaluation suggest only moderate damage. South Korean sources claims up to 10 sailors killed, but other more conservative sources claim only 1 dead and 3 wounded. Korean People’s Navy claim no casualties or damage.
Despite some claims, the North Korean patrol boat was not armed with 85mm, but only 37mm and 25mm: while South Korean sources claimed victory, other local sources criticized how their Navy missed the opportunity to sink n°383 and failed to do this despite clear advantage in numbers and firepower. Western analysts valuate the battle as disputed result, but effectively the KPN single vessel survived the engagement despite enemy superiority.
26 March 2010
Sinking of Cheonan
South Korean corvettes ROKS Sokcho and ROKS Cheonan were on patrol near the Baengnyeong Island when suddenly the ROKS Cheonan sunk. 49 crewmembers died, 58 rescued.
Other casualties occurred during the rescue operations: one diver drowned, and other 9 died when a small rescue boat sunk due accidental collision.
Wreck of corvette was raised for inspection. Cause of sinking are heavily disputed: South Korea and western source identify a ”Yono class” midget submarine as the attacker that torpedoed and sunk the corvette.
Remains of torpedo were found. Russian, Chinese and DPRK sources dispute this, blaming the reason for the sinking was an old mine, an accident or even suggesting an accidental sinking caused by collision with an American submarine (South Korean Navy was involved in exercises).
According South Korean sources, four crewmembers of the submarine received the title of Hero of the Republic. The sinking made western analysts re-consider the efficacy of Korean People’s Navy light and midget submarine nearby coasts for harassing attacks, also it would be the third ever successful submarine attack made since the WW2 (after two other episodes occurred during the Indo-Pakistani war and the Falkland War).
(From Soviet-empire): Chronology of naval operations during Korean War + border conflict and Cold War
Discussions on other historical eras.
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