The West Coast Fleet is reported to operate from nine bases, while the East Coast Fleet has 12 bases; the fleets maintain approximately 420 and 570 vessels, respectively. A small number of coastal defense surface-to-surface missile batteries are operated by each fleet. Sixty percent of the navy's combat forces are forward-deployed.
Russia has denied reports that it has helped North Korea with developing a sea-based nuclear program.
The North Korean navy has been regularly implicated in the transshipment of narcotics and counterfeit currency.
There have been sporadic naval engagements between North and South Korea for years, usually over their disputed maritime boundary. In 2004, North Korea warned that if the South Korean navy continued to engage in "serious provocation," naval warfare could ensue. Incursions continued to be reported in 2009.
The navy was observed stepping up its amphibious landing training in June 2009, sparking South Korean concern over a possible invasion.
Plans and Programs
The North Korean fleet is rapidly aging. Given the economic and political situation, it is likely to receive little or no modernization, driving down Pyongyang's already limited combat potential.