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Key Point: North Korea’s littoral agile played an important role in the aboriginal canicule of the Korean War in bulging force adjoin its southern neighbor.
Just canicule afterwards North Korea boarded on its steam-roller aggression of its beyond but beneath heavily armed southern neighbor, the United Nations absitively it bare to footfall in and save the besieged Republic of Korea.
However, it would booty time for arena armament and their abundant tanks and arms to access in South Korean anchorage of Pusan (all the others above ports were apace overrun).
The aforementioned was not accurate of aircraft ships based in U.S.-occupied Japan. While American jet fighters anchored air ahead over North Korea’s World War II-vintage air force, it fell to the U.S. and British navies to try to axis the acutely unstoppable North Korean advance.
The UN ships could affect battles on acreage in two key ways: by bombarding littoral accessories and adversary troops advancing forth the bank band with their ample guns, and by abduction ascendancy of the sea from North Korea’s People’s Navy, which was application its baby boats and merchant ships to accumulation troops forth the bank and access commandos abaft South Korean lines.
The best important argosy activity of the war occurred on the aperture day of the conflict. South Korea’s alone ample convoying baiter intercepted and destroyed a North Korean barge on the border of landing troops in Pusan in an assurance declared in a accompaniment article.
On July 2, a added appalling assignment force accumulated on Korea’s eastern coastline, composed of the American ablaze cruiser Juneau, the British cruiser Jamaica and the frigate-sized armed baiter Black Swan.
Both British argosy had apparent cogent activity during World War II.
The abate escort 2,000-ton HMS Black Swan, had survived mines and advancing Luftwaffe bombers, and alike helped bore German abysmal U-124. A year earlier, she had emerged abominably aged but still afloat from a baleful gun bound with Chinese littoral accoutrements on the Yangtze river.
Jamaica’s feats were alike added legendary. In 1942, she had answerable appear German battlecruisers in the Activity of the Barents Sea, allowance drive them away, again helped bore belled battlecruiser Scharnhornst in the ballsy Activity of the North Cape.
By contrast, the 6,800-ton USS Juneau had alone aloof been commissioned in 1946, the advance address in her chic anti-aircraft cruisers.
At a division accomplished six in the morning of July 2, 1950, lookouts on the three ships spotted four North Korean motor abate boats (numbered No.21 through No. 24) and two gunboats (Mo-233 and Mo-234) convoying ten trawlers branch aback to their bases in North Korea—having aloof emptied holds abounding of armament at Chuonmin Chan (also transliterated as Chumunjin).
As the cruisers surged advanced to intercept, to their surprise, the motorboats bald of and came barreling appear them!
The anew founded North Korean Navy had accustomed at atomic bristles Soviet G-5 motor abate boats. Pictured here, the G-5s alone 62 anxiety long, advised a bald 18 bags and about appropriate a aggregation of six or seven. Their two 850 application GAM-34 V12 engines—derived from an aircraft agent acclimated on abundant bombers and ‘flying aircraft carriers’—could actuate the baiter to a blazin fast 61 afar per hour.
That acceleration was hoped to accord the boats the activity to balk adversary blaze and activity to a acceptable battlefront position to absolution their primary weapons: two 533-millimeter abate tubes. While torpedoes could be dodged, they were still abundantly feared: activity acquaintance had apparent that aloof one or two advantageous abate hits could bore alike ample cruisers and carriers.
As accessory weapons, the motor boats additionally had 12.7-millimeter apparatus guns, and some may accept been adapted with punchier rapid-firing automated cannons.
The Soviet Union had congenital over 300 G-5s amid 1934 and 1941, and absent in World War II skirmishes with the German, Finnish and Romanian armament in the Baltic and Black Seas. However, they rarely launched abate attacks adjoin ample warships, instead aggressive baby minesweepers and minelayers, and confined in abetting carriage roles.
The two gunboats were 47-ton wooden-hulled OD-200-class abysmal hunters armed with rapid-firing 37-millimeter anti-aircraft cannons, sonars and abyss charges.
The big cruisers began casting big shells at their diminutive assailants from over six afar away. The Jamaica disposed of both four triple-6” gun turrets, as able-bodied as four faster-firing 4” bifold purposes guns. Juneau bristled with six turrets anniversary packing two 5” dual-purpose guns.
In Michael Hickey’s history Korean War, Midshipman Michael Muschamp of the Jamaica remembered the activity thusly:
“A actual abashed 18-year old donned clothes, anti-flash accessory and a tin hat in amateur quick time. I fabricated my way to my activity base on the bridge…I anon saw what all the fuss was about.
There were six baby craft, trapped amid UN three argosy and the shore, battlefront what appeared to be 20mm and 40mm cannon at Juneau and Jamaica. The two cruisers got the ambit of the ability and sank four aural ten minutes. Another ran aground in bonfire and the sixth able seaward.”
By the time the little boats had bankrupt aural two miles, abate boats No.24 had absolute sunk by the able shells, and No.22 abominably damaged. No.23 aground itself aground due to accident and was after destroyed.
Both gunboats were destroyed as well, and two North Korean sailors captured.
By best accounts the North Korean never launched any torpedoes. According to Muschamp, one of the rescued sailors back asked by an interrogator, stated: “Oh, the Russians were activity to advise us how to blaze them [torpedoes] abutting week.”
Only baiter No.21 able the assurance unscathed. Its captain, Kim Kun Ok, allegedly appear biconcave the American cruiser Baltimore—a achievement which charcoal acclaimed with a affectation (pictured here) in the Victorious War Museum in Pyongyang. This would accept been absolutely a feat, as the Baltimore had been decommissioned four years beforehand in 1946, and was at the time captivated in assets in Washington state.
Bravado aside, the KPN after absitively to abstain anon agreeable U.N. argosy for the butt of the conflict. However, it did abide application baby boats for resupply and troop aggression mission—most of which= were after sunk that July and August, including the ten KPN trawlers the motor boats had been escorting.
Later on August 15, South Korean minesweeper YMS 503 intercepted a ample North Korean accompany and sank 15 baby boats and captured 30.
As the UN caked ascendancy of the seas surrounding the Sea of Japan, the gun-armed basic ships boarded on an all-encompassing bank array campaign. One tactic active was to preemptively carapace the cliffs overlooking littoral anchorage to actualize obstructing debris. The cruisers would again delay agilely at night with their active lights off for a North Korean accompany to access and alight to bright the debris, afore aperture blaze with a abruptness salvo.
However, littoral array missions came with their own risks. On July 8, Jamaica was bombarding a bank ambition back a appreciably well-aimed 3-inch carapace accursed by a littoral array smacked into her superstructure, killing bristles artillerymen that had been manning the accoutrements as able-bodied as one sailor. These were the aboriginal UK casualties of the Korean War.
The activity of Chumonchin Chan is today advised on of the six apparent warfare engagements fought by the U.S. Navy back World War II, but the baby admeasurement of the North Korean argosy has acceptable contributed to the engagement’s obscurity.
Nonetheless, North Korea’s littoral agile played an important role in the aboriginal canicule of the Korean War in bulging force adjoin its southern neighbor. The active argue army by ROK and UN argosy armament additionally was basic in abbreviating that threat—and laid the background for the landing at Inchon that ejected Pyongyang’s troops from South Korea, and ultimately threatened the North in about-face with invasion.
Sébastien Roblin holds a Master’s Degree in Activity Resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university adviser for the Peace Corps in China. He has additionally formed in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on aegis and aggressive history for War Is Boring.
This commodity aboriginal appeared in September 2019. It is actuality republished due to clairvoyant interest.
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