North Korean state media welcome the commissioning of a new nation-built cargo ship. By all indications, she is possibly the largest North Korean registered commercial vessel and is also the first new commercial vessel the regime has highlighted in five years.
Details on the ship are scarce, aside from media reports saying the Jang Su San is 12,000 tons. No size or capacity has been announced for the vessel. Analysts compare the ship to Ja Ryok that North Korea ordered in 2016. This vessel is listed in the international registers at 5,400 dwt with dimensions of 325 long and a beam of 52 feet. the Ja Ryok was registered internationally with an IMO number. Western media NK News reports, however, that the new vessel currently does not have an IMO number and registry entry.
Korea’s state-run Central News Agency reported that the commissioning ceremony took place on December 23 and that the ship left shortly after, although it may have been a ceremonial departure. During the ceremony with all the frills and pageantry customary in North Korea, senior party officials praised the patriotic achievement.
The ship was built at the Ryongnam Shipyard located near the port of Nampho on the west coast of North Korea. Officials read a letter from the Central Committee which pointed out that the ship was built in a repair yard without the equipment of a shipbuilder. North Korea describes the Ryongnam facility as a full-scale repair yard capable of handling ships weighing up to 10,000 tonnes. the Ja Ryok was built in the same yard five years ago.
North Korea has an aging small commercial fleet, hampered by UN sanctions. The country is officially prohibited from building new ships or buying ships in the west. The largest vessel registered in North Korea was the Sage Honest, a cargo ship of 27,880 dwt. The United States, however, has succeeded in seize the ship for sanctions violations, and in 2019 the Sage Honest was sold for scrap.