South Korea lays out its case on ship sinking
May 21, 2010
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Investigators let media have a look at the wreckage of the Cheonan on Wednesday, the day before South Korea was to formally announce that a North Korean torpedo sank the South Korean patrol ship.
The wreckage of the March 26 sinking was retrieved from the Yellow Sea near the maritime border between the two Koreas and hauled to South Korea’s Second Fleet Command base in Pyeongtaek.
Yoon Duk-yong, an investigator with the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, told reporters Wednesday that evidence from the recovered pieces of the ship points to a torpedo attack. He said a torpedo likely exploded near the Cheonan, causing a shock wave bubble that split it in half and caused impacted areas of the patrol ship to “dish,” or bend inward.
Yoon said the ship appeared to have been hit in one strike, adding that the damage was consistent with that of a torpedo strike instead of a mine.
Media were granted access to the wreckage Wednesday on condition they not publish material until after 10 a.m. Thursday, when officials at a press conference were expected to formally announce that North Korea is to blame for the sinking that killed 46 sailors.
Experts previously interviewed by Stars and Stripes and other wire services have predicted South Korea will ask for more United Nations sanctions against North Korea, instead of responding with a military strike. South Korea will also likely ask the U.S. to delay the transfer of operational wartime control — when South Korea assumes wartime command of its troops — which is now scheduled for April 17, 2012, they said.
U.S. analysts joined the South Korean-led investigation team that determined the cause of the explosion, and U.S. underwater explosive ordnance and rescue-and-salvage teams aided in the search for the wreckage.