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March 27, 2015, 12:55:52 PM
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Offline Peter

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The Sinking of the Cheonan
« on: March 27, 2015, 12:55:52 PM »
Tomorrow is the 5th anniversary of the sinking of the South Korean warship, the Cheonan. I remember reading the first reports in the early hours of the morning and seriously wondering if a war was about to break out. Usually countries don't like it when other countries sink their battleships.

For a class I was teaching at the time, I collected some articles and related links and posted them on another of my forums - I have a lot of forums. I actually looked for these articles last month and failed to find where I had posted them :o. Thankfully, I just found them after a more thorough search ;)

I can't quite recall why, perhaps I was just busy, but I didn't post the links here. Five years later, here they are. Some of them have since gone off to Internet Heaven, so I'm glad I saved what I did. I absolutely hate it when news websites fail to keep their on content online - how hard can it be? A lot of articles about the JMS cult would have been lost forever if a few of us hadn't been on our toes.

A couple of the YouTube videos I linked to five years ago are gone now, too. Unfortunately, I didn't download those and can't recall how significant they were.

March 27, 2015, 12:56:28 PM
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Offline Peter

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Re: The Sinking of the Cheonan
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2015, 12:56:28 PM »
The Sinking of the Cheonan:

Search Continues for Survivors After South Korean Ship Explodes in North Korean Waters

South Korean navy ship sinks near border with DPRK - CCTV 100326

South Korean Ship Sinks After Explosion In Disputed North Korean Waters

March 27, 2010: Survivor Suggests Outside Attack on Ship (The Korea Herald)

A survivor from the sunken naval patrol ship Cheonan on Saturday raised the possibility of the 1,200-ton vessel sinking due to an attack from an outside force.

“There is no possibility whatsoever that the ship sank due to an internal explosion or a collision with a reef. I guarantee that,” a navy lieutenant was quoted as saying by participants in a briefing session organized by the Navy’s Second Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province -- the home port of the ill-fated ship.

“Another cause could be an attack from an outside force and that is not exact as of yet. The military is currently conducting an investigation and I am not in a position to comment on that,” he added.

About 300 relatives of the 46 missing sailors from the sunken ship attended the session, which was not open to the press. The vessel sank in waters near the western maritime border with North Korea at around 9:45 p.m. on Friday after an explosion ripped a hole in the rear bottom of the ship.

Some burst into tears and screamed when a survivor described the sinking of the boat with its 104 crew members aboard.

Fifty-eight sailors have so far been rescued. Thirteen of them suffered injuries and are now being treated at hospitals. No one is in critical condition, officials said.

In another briefing session held in the afternoon, commander Choi Won-il, who led the sunken ship, said the explosion appears to have been caused by “internal or external shocks.”

“The exact cause of the explosion can be verified after the ship is salvaged and a thorough investigation is carried out,” he said. “The ship was broken into two parts and the rear of the ship abruptly sank. I tried my best to rescue my soldiers and I feel sorry that I came alive alone.” The Second Fleet Command said that it would take some representing families of the missing soldiers to the scene of the incident aboard a Navy ship on Sunday.

During an emergency session of the National Assembly’s defense committee, Lee Gi-sik, chief of the Defense Ministry’s intelligence operations, said that captain Choi reported the situation to the chief of naval operations with his mobile phone right before the ship sank.

“All electricity was cut off at the time so the captain reported the situation with his cell phone,” Lee said.

“There was a big detonation and the engine stopped and the electricity was cut off. I went up to the deck and couldn’t see the stern of the ship there. All happened within two minutes,” the captain was quoted as saying by Rep. Kim Hak-song of the ruling Grand National Party who chairs the committee.

Some reports earlier said that the government presumes that the possibility of North Korea’s involvement in the incident is low.

According to them, as the Northern Limit Line, which serves as a de facto sea border, is about 10-12 kilometers away from where the ship sank, a North Korean warship’s infiltration would have been easily revealed. They added that the waters where the ship sank were relatively shallow, meaning the operation of a North Korean warship would be difficult.

The U.S. forces in Korea are also said to presume that the possibility of North Korea’s involvement is low as there were no suspicious activities or movements detected before and after the ship sank.

“The exact cause of the incident has yet to be verified, but if we sum up investigations conducted by related ministries, the North does not appear to be involved in the incident,” a government source was quoted by Yonhap News as saying.

“Currently, the Navy has dispatched its Underwater Demolition Team to the scene of the incident to investigate the incident and rescue survivors. So we cautiously reckon that the cause, though roughly, would be verified sooner or later.”

The North has so far remained silent on the incident. When skirmishes occurred in 1999, 2002 and last year in the waters near the NLL, the North made official comments blaming the South within hours.

The North does not recognize the NLL, as it was unilaterally drawn by the U.S.-led U.N. command at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

President Lee Myung-bak convened the emergency meeting of security ministers twice on Saturday, calling for the speedy rescue of survivors and prompt verification of the cause of the incident.

Defense Minister Kim Tae-young said that a 3,000-ton naval ship will be deployed to the scene for the rescue operations on Sunday.

“Without a rescue ship, there are limitations in carrying out the rescue operations under the bad weather conditions. With the deployment of the ship, the rescue efforts will pick up speed,” he told reporters.

The military on Saturday sought to begin the work to ascertain how the ship sank along with the operations to rescue the survivors, but the work failed to proceed due to adverse weather conditions.

In the afternoon, the Navy dispatched 18 divers of its Ship Salvage Unit to search survivors and check the hole on the bottom of the ship. But they could not dive into the waters due to high waves. As the day waned, the search operations could begin on Sunday, officials said.

March 27, 2015, 12:57:22 PM
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Offline Peter

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Re: The Sinking of the Cheonan
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2015, 12:57:22 PM »
More Questions Raised Than Answered Over Sunken Ship

Korea Times
March 28, 2010

As hopes are dimming over the rescue of 46 missing sailors, a host of questions have been raised over the mysterious explosion that caused the 1,200-ton Navy ship Cheonan to break in half Friday night.

The captain, Commander Choi Won-il, said the vessel broke in two five minutes after the blast, as he was assessing the situation.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said 60 percent of the entire ship was underwater 20 minutes after the explosion as water rushed into the body.

In this regard, Minister of National Defense Kim Tae-young said that Choi was probably mistaken as a Thermal Observation Device would have given him the wrong information, indicating that the ship was split in half before sinking.

Questions have also been raised why no new survivors, nor any bodies, have been found since 58 of the ship's 104 crew members were rescued Friday night.

Observers said fierce waves have hampered efforts to find more survivors and most of the missing personnel would have been trapped inside their rapidly sinking vessel, which consists of more than 100 compartments.

They pointed out that the lack of escape drills and the timing of the incident are attributable to the low-survival rate.

``Unless you are in Special Forces, most crewmen participate in an escape drill once or twice a year,'' a Navy officer said on condition of anonymity. ``It also appears that they panicked as the entire ship shook after the explosion, when they were either resting or preparing to go to bed.''

Another lingering question is why a nearby patrol ship fired a warning shot toward the North soon after the tragic sinking.

In this regard, the JSC said one of their ships had fired on a radar contact that turned out to be a flock of birds.

Some military experts, however, point out that the chance of firing warning shots at a flock of birds is unlikely, as the Navy's patrol ships are equipped with sophisticated radar devices.

Meanwhile, military officials were narrowing down the possibility to the vessel's collision with a rock, a torpedo attack from outside forces, including North Korea, or an internal explosion due to the missiles and explosives the ship was carrying.

The Navy plans to salvage the vessel for inspection to determine what caused the incident, a process that may take at least 20 days, officials said.

Experts say if the blast took place within the vessel, the steel of the hull should be bent outward; If a hole was made due to an external force or impact, the steel of the hull should be bent inward.

The ship, first deployed in 1989, was equipped with missiles and torpedoes, according to officials.

March 27, 2015, 12:58:15 PM
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Re: The Sinking of the Cheonan
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2015, 12:58:15 PM »
Angry Families Visit Site of Sunken South Korean Ship

Associated Press
March 28, 2010.

BAENGNYEONG ISLAND, South Korea – Weeping, angry relatives of 46 crew members missing after a mysterious explosion sank a South Korean navy ship sailed around the site Sunday while others criticized the government for lack of results as rescue teams struggled to search for survivors.

No one has been found since an initial rescue of 58 sailors from the 1,200-ton Cheonan that sank early Saturday near the tense border with North Korea. No bodies have been discovered either. Still, President Lee Myung-bak refused to give up hope.

The ship had been on a routine patrol with other vessels in the Yellow Sea off South Korea's western coast. The exact cause of the explosion — one of South Korea's worst naval disasters — remained unclear and officials said it could take weeks to determine.

Fierce waves and high winds have hampered the search in an area where the two Koreas have fought three bloody naval engagements since 1999. Despite the location of the sinking, North Korea did not appear to be involved.

"We have detected 'no special movements' by North Korean forces; however, we, as a command, continue to monitor the situation and remain prepared for any contingency," Gen. Walter Sharp, chief of the 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea, said in a statement Sunday.

A U.S. military ship would join rescue operations Monday, according to South Korea's Defense Ministry.

At a naval base in Pyeongtaek, near Seoul, where other family members awaited news, wails of worry and anguish turned into shouts and screams from relatives demanding answers and results as Defense Minister Kim Tae-young and ruling party chief Chung Mong-joon visited to console them.

"My son said he would defend the nation, but instead he ended up like this!," one unidentified woman shouted, crying out and holding a framed photo of her son.
The Cheonan sank near Baengnyeong Island, just south of the disputed sea border between the two Koreas. The countries remain in a state of war because their three-year conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953.

The explosion tore open the rear hull of the Cheonan, shut down its engine, wiped out power and caused the ship to sink a little over three hours later. The ship broke into two pieces, officials said.

Military and coast guard ships, helicopters and divers searched the chilly waters Sunday but made little headway due to poor underwater visibility and strong currents.
Rescue ships retrieved about 20 life jackets and 15 safety helmets in waters 7-18 miles (11-29 kilometers) away from the site, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On Baengnyeong Island, marines combed beaches to check for any bodies or debris that may have washed ashore.

Lee ordered officials to "thoroughly investigate" the sinking and make their best efforts to rescue any survivors.

"The president said that utmost efforts must be exerted in the belief that missing crew members are still alive and that we must never lose hope," the presidential Blue House said.
As hopes faded for the missing crew, about 80 family members aboard a navy patrol boat sailed around the site and watched rescue operations.

"My son! My son!" one crying woman shouted while boarding the ship at a naval base south of Seoul for the journey to the accident area as other relatives wailed in grief.
Officials will only be able to determine the cause of the explosion after the sunken ship is salvaged, a naval officer said Sunday. The officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because of department policy, said it is likely to take about a month to salvage a ship of that size.

Some relatives had said Saturday at the naval base that rescued crew members described the Cheonan — which survived a 1999 skirmish with North Korean warships — as old and leaky.

"He was reluctant to go on board because the ship was so old and faulty," one weeping wife said Saturday of her missing husband. "I am sure the ship being leaky led to it sinking."

March 27, 2015, 12:59:16 PM
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Offline Peter

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Re: The Sinking of the Cheonan
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2015, 12:59:16 PM »
Cause of Ship Disaster Still Unclear

Daily NK
March 29, 2010

The investigation into the cause of the explosion which sank the Cheonan and killed tens of its crew deep in South Korean waters near Baengnyeong Island on March 26 has continued for three days; however, no specific progress on discovering the cause of the accident has been made.

The cause can best be investigated after the Cheonan is brought to the surface but, due to the size (1,200 tons) of the vessel, the salvage operation will take more than a month.

The South Korean administration is working with four possibilities in mind: an explosion from within the ship; collision with a submerged rock; explosion caused by a mine; or a torpedo attack.

However, based on our understanding of the sea bed where the accident occurred and the violent nature of the explosion, it is highly unlikely that the ship went down after striking a rock.

Therefore, possible causes of the accident are an explosion within the ship or attack from without. Whether the hull of the ship exploded outwards or inwards should resolve that question.

In order to find the necessary evidence, a Ship Salvage Unit (SSU) is helping with the search; however, strong currents make getting access to the ship very difficult.

The South Korea military authorities agree that the accident may have been caused by a munitions accident or exploding fuel, while the possibility of it being a result of North Korean sabotage is also being carefully raised.

The South Korean government’s initial judgment is that North Korea was not responsible for the sinking, though this does not mean that they are excluding the possibility entirely.

During President Lee Myung Bak’s hastily convened security meeting at the Blue house on March 28, Lee cautioned against rash judgments. “The investigation should proceed with every possibility in mind,” he said, “Hasty conclusions or chaos caused by such conclusions shouldn’t be allowed to occur.”

Won Tae Jae, a spokesman for South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense, also commented, “Weight is being given to the possibility of the Cheonan having been attacked; however, no conclusions are being made yet.”

Yonhap News quotes a Blue House official as saying that it is quite believable that the accident was caused by a mine.

The official explained that it might have been a mine set by the South Korean Navy and never removed, or by North Korea in South Korean waters. Both possibilities are equally plausible. Even if that cause is confirmed, it will be extremely difficult to conclude whose mine it was due to poor visibility.

Theories implicating North Korea in the attack point to recent provocations in the West Sea around the Northern Limit Line (NLL) such as irregular coastal artillery firing practice, and information from people who saw the Cheonan go down in a way which suggested damage caused by a mine or torpedo.

It is true that North Korea is capable of launching such an attack from one of its small submersible craft or midget submarines, and it is also notable that the last meeting between the two Koreas in the West Sea, the Daechung naval battle in November, 2009, resulted in heavy damage to a North Korean vessel.

Also, North Korea has engaged in building up tension in the area primarily to argue for the conclusion of a Korean War peace agreement, and the way a warlike atmosphere can be used by the North Korean regime to shift the attention of its citizens away from the hardships visited upon them by recent post-redenomination economic troubles and food shortages cannot be excluded from the debate, either.

Regardless, Captain Park Yeon Su, the operations officer on the sunken Cheonan, knows what he thinks. During a presentation for the families of missing sailors’ on March 27, he declared, “There is absolutely no possibility of an internal explosion or the ship striking a rock. I can personally guarantee that fact.”

“The other possibility is that the ship was attacked. However, this is uncertain and an investigation is currently underway, so I can’t comment.”

Meanwhile, the South Korean authorities remain steadfastly neutral, saying that no unusual movements from the North Korean People’s Army were recorded before or after the sinking of the Cheonan, and that when the three naval battles occurred in the region in the past, the North Korean military quickly stated that they were ‘self-defensive measures against the provocations of South Korea,’ whereas they have not made a statement of any sort in this case.

March 27, 2015, 01:00:11 PM
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Re: The Sinking of the Cheonan
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2015, 01:00:11 PM »
Hopes Fading for Missing S. Korean Sailors

The Korea Times
March 29

NK Mine Suspected in Navy Ship Disaster

By Jung Sung-ki
Staff Reporter

Defense Minister Kim Tae-young cautiously raised the possibility Monday that the ill-fated frigate Cheonan may have hit a mine laid by North Korea.

His remark drew attention as Cheong Wa Dae and defense officials had previously sought to downplay the North’s possible involvement in the deadly ship wreck Friday in which 46 South Korean sailors remain “missing in action.”

Answering questions at the National Assembly on the cause of the incident, Kim said, “North Korean mines may have floated into our territorial waters.”

However, he refused to comment on whether the mines had been placed by the North intentionally or had drifted into South Korean waters.

Earlier in the day, rescue workers confirmed the location of the stern of the downed ship, which was split in two after an unexplained explosion, the defense ministry said.

About 100 South Korean and U.S. divers began operations and succeeded in reaching the stern, which was about 50 meters from where the ship went down, and about 40 meters underwater, ministry spokesman Won Tae-jae told reporters.

The divers tied a loop of rope around its deck, Won said.

They tapped on the outside of the hull but failed to hear any sound inside, he said.

Kim ruled out the possibility of a blast caused by South Korean mines, and also played down the possibility of a torpedo attack.

North Korea bought about 4,000 sea mines from the former Soviet Union during the 1950-53 Korean War and was believed to have laid about 3,000 of them both in eastern and western waters off the Korean Peninsula, Kim noted.

“Almost all mines were removed, but not 100 percent,” he said. “A North Korean mine was found in South Korean waters in 1984 and another was removed in 1995.”

Both Koreas deployed floating and submerged mines near the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de facto sea border, after the Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

Military experts said an acoustic mine might have been triggered by the Cheonan’s propellers. Acoustic mines are activated by the noise of a passing ship’s screws.

The location of the wreckage came two days after search-and-rescue (SAR) efforts began near the western sea border with North Korea.

Most of the 46 missing sailors are believed to have been in the stern when the 1,200-ton ship was destroyed and sank 1.8 kilometers southwest of Baengnyeong Island near the NLL.

A Navy salvage team confirmed the location of the bow of the vessel, which was carrying crew of 104, Sunday. Fifty-eight sailors, including the captain, were rescued from one of the country’s worst sea disasters.

It is possible that some missing sailors could have survived in air-pockets inside the ship, although the water in the West Sea is about 4 degrees Celsius.

“We are expecting to see some positive results as the rest of the body of the ship has been found,” Rear Adm. Lee Ki-shik at the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters. “We’ll be sending down underwater cameras and hope that all sailors are still alive.”

President Lee Myung-bak called for speeding up the rescue operation.

“We should use all the manpower and equipment available to rescue the sailors as fast as possible,” Lee was quoted by his spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye as saying, after receiving an emergency briefing from his top aides.

The President stressed rescuers “should not give up hope for more survivors.”

Minister Kim said, however, he believes the possibility of survivors is low given the amount of time that has passed since the accident occurred.

Full-fledged rescue operations by civilian divers as well as South Korean and U.S. salvage specialists are underway, the minister said.

About 20 South Korean vessels, including the 3,000-ton Gwangyang rescue ship and two minesweepers, have been conducting efforts to reach possible survivors.

The Japan-based U.S. 7th Fleet dispatched a 3,000-ton rescue ship to the site, and 15 U.S. divers are supporting the operation, Kim said.

The cause of the explosion on the ship remains unclear.

Several possibilities have been suggested: an accidental onboard explosion, or a blast caused by hitting rocks or sea mines planted either by North or South Korea.

With regard to North Korean involvement, U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Walter Sharp also said in a statement that his command didn’t detect any indication that this was the case.

March 27, 2015, 01:01:12 PM
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Re: The Sinking of the Cheonan
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2015, 01:01:12 PM »
Korea, US Mount Largest Joint Rescue Operations

The Korea Times
March 29, 2010.

A U.S. Navy group of four ships ? three warships and one salvage vessel ? have joined South Korea's rescue and recovery operations for its sunken frigate, the Cheonan.

Their presence has made the latest operation the biggest of its kind.

A total of 22 salvage ships, destroyers and cruisers from the two allies are participating.

Helicopters conducted searches over the presumed scene of the sinking, marked by buoys.

Navy and civilian divers plunged into near-freezing water in a desperate effort to search for survivors, whose chances of survival are growing slim.

Kim Yong-kyu, spokesman for the U.S. Forces in Korea (USFK), provided information on the U.S. Navy's participation in operation.

The spokesman said its participation was made at the request of South Korean authorities.

The four U.S. ships belong to the U.S. 7th Fleet, based just south of Tokyo.

"They were participating in Key Resolve/Foal Eagle Exercise, a joint Korea-U.S. military drill which will continue until the end of April," the spokesman added.

Among the four is the 3,200-ton rescue-and-salvage ship USS Salvor that carries 16 skilled divers and equipment that makes it possible for divers to reach sunken ships under extreme conditions. Rapid currents and poor underwater visibility have blocked Korean navy divers from locating the split hull of the warship or finding any missing sailors.

The 8,300-ton destroyer USS Cultis Wilvur, 9,600-ton cruiser USS Shiloh and 9,200-ton destroyer USS Lassen also joined the operation, according to the USFK.

Scores of ROK Navy ships have already been dispatched to the scene.

"All available warships and support vessels from the 2nd Fleet in Pyeongtaek are participating in the search-and-rescue operations," Cmdr. Bae Myeong-woo said.

Participating ships include the 3,000-ton Gwangyang rescue vessel and two 730-ton minesweepers ? Yangyang and Ongjin.

The 86-meter-long Gwangyang is specialized for recovering sunken ships. It is equipped with deep-sea diving equipment to reach 91 meters deep, a crane and lifting bags.

The minesweepers are used in detecting sea mines or ship wreckage with the help of sonar equipment.

A Navy's Landing Ship, Tank (LST) transport vessel is also participating.

Later in the day, the 14,000-ton Dokdo Landing Platform Helicopter (LPH 6111), the largest helicopter transporter in Asia, arrived at the site.

The 199-meter-long large-deck landing ship, commissioned in 2007, not only serves as a light aircraft carrier but also is used in international peacekeeping and disaster relief.

March 27, 2015, 01:01:51 PM
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Re: The Sinking of the Cheonan
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2015, 01:01:51 PM »
No Signs of Life in Search of Sunken South Korean Ship

March 29, 2010

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- Divers have been hammering on the hulls of the front and rear sections of a sunken South Korean navy ship, but no signs of life have been detected, military officials said Monday.

The 1,200-ton patrol ship Cheonan was carrying 104 sailors when an apparent explosion caused it to capsize Friday night in the Yellow Sea near a disputed maritime border between the Koreas. Fifty-eight sailors have been rescued, but hopes were fading for finding the remaining 46. No bodies or survivors have been found in the sea.

No cause has been determined for the ship's sinking, although the Yonhap News Agency quoted military officials as saying that an unidentified explosion tore a hole in the ship's rear, shutting off the engine.
South Korea's defense minister said it is possible an old mine could be behind the explosion.

Defense Minister Kim Tae-young told a parliamentary defense committee Monday that a North Korean sea mine from the 1950-53 Korean War could have caused the blast.

"It is possible that a North Korean sea mine could have drifted into our area," Kim said, according to Yonhap. He said North Korea brought in about 4,000 sea mines from the Soviet Union during the war and placed about 3,000 of them in the Yellow and East seas.

"Though many sea mines were removed, it must have been impossible to retrieve them 100 percent," Kim said. "One (North Korean sea mine) was found in 1959, and another was removed in 1984."

Citing accounts of rescued sailors who handled the ship's radar, Kim said there were no signs of a torpedo attack ahead of the explosion.

The navy plans to salvage the vessel to determine what caused the incident, Yonhap reported. It was carrying missiles and torpedoes, navy officials said.

President Lee Myung-bak called for a thorough investigation into the cause of the explosion. Presidential spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye said Lee ordered the military to use "all the manpower and equipment available to conduct a search operation as fast as possible" and said rescuers "should not give up hope of more survivors."

The U.S. Seventh Fleet sent its rescue vessel Salvo to aid in the operation Monday, according to a South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman quoted by Yonhap. It is one of 24 military ships involved in the rescue, the spokesman said.

Military officials sought to allay fears of the families of the missing sailors, emphasizing that "no deaths have been confirmed yet," according to Yonhap.

Baengyeong Island, the Seoul-administered island near the scene of the accident, is a flash point maritime border area between the Koreas.

Given Baengyeong island's proximity to North Korea, North Korean involvement was feared, but South Korean officials have played down that scenario.

March 27, 2015, 01:02:35 PM
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Re: The Sinking of the Cheonan
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2015, 01:02:35 PM »
South Korean President Orders Military on Alert

Associated Press
March 30, 2010.

SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea's president ordered the military on alert Tuesday for any moves by rival North Korea after the defense minister said last week's explosion and sinking of a South Korean ship may have been caused by a North Korean mine.

The blast ripped the 1,200-ton ship apart last Friday night during a routine patrol mission near Baengnyeong Island, along the tense maritime border west of the Korean peninsula. Fifty-eight crew members, including the captain, were plucked to safety; 46 remain missing with dim prospects for finding any further survivors.

The Joint Chief of Staff said the exact cause was unclear, and U.S. and South Korean officials said there was no outward indication of North Korean involvement.

However, Defense Minister Kim Tae-young told lawmakers Monday that a floating mine dispatched from North Korea was one of several scenarios for the disaster. "Neither the government nor the defense ministry has ever said there was no possibility of North Korea's involvement," Kim said.

The two Koreas remain in a state of war because their three-year conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953. North Korea disputes the sea border drawn by the United Nations in 1953, and the western waters near the spot where the Cheonan went down have been the site of three bloody skirmishes between North and South.

"Since the sinking took place at the front line, the military should thoroughly prepare for any move by North Korea," President Lee Myung-bak told his Cabinet, according to his spokesman, Park Sun-kyoo. "I want the military to maintain its readiness."

The Joint Chiefs of Staff said the cause of the blast may remain unclear until the ship is salvaged after the rescue operation is over.

Any navy crewmen who managed to seal themselves inside their watertight cabins would have run out of air by Monday night since the supply of oxygen in the cabins was estimated to last up to 69 hours, military officials said.

Hampered by rough waves, divers finally reached the ship's rear segment, where most of the missing were believed trapped, and pumped oxygen into cracks in the stern on Monday, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They hammered on the hull but got no response.

Military divers were gearing up to break into the ship Tuesday, Rear Adm. Lee Ki-sik of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters.

"The fate of the 46 young soldiers defending our territory in the border area is still unknown," President Lee said. "I cannot describe how regrettable this is. Let's not give up hope until the last moment."

The disaster is one of South Korea's worst. Kim said Monday that the ship may have struck a mine left over from the war or deliberately dispatched from the North.

Many of the 3,000 Soviet-made naval mines North Korea planted in the waters off both coasts during the war were removed, but not all. Kim noted a North Korean mine was discovered as recently as 1984.

"North Korea may have intentionally floated underwater mines to inflict damage on us," Kim told lawmakers.
He insisted there were no South Korean mines off the west coast, and ruled out a torpedo attack from North Korea, which would have been spotted by radar.

Officials have also said an internal malfunction may be to blame. The 1,200-ton Cheonan is designed to carry weapons, and was involved in a previous skirmish with North Korea.
Pyongyang's state media have made no mention of the ship.

Earlier Friday, North Korea's military warned of "unpredictable strikes" if the U.S. and South Korea attempted to topple the regime. On Monday, a military spokesman accused the countries of engaging in "psychological warfare" by letting journalists into the Demilitarized Zone.

Anguished relatives waited for news at a naval base in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, some pounding their chests with grief, others shouting their displeasure at the slow pace of the rescue.
"My baby, my baby," one mother murmured, briefly losing consciousness.

"The navy is rotten to the core!" a man yelled, lunging at soldiers standing arm in arm to block angry family members from barging into the command center.

March 27, 2015, 01:03:27 PM
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Re: The Sinking of the Cheonan
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2015, 01:03:27 PM »
Hopes Fade for Missing South Korean Marines

Associated Press.
March 27.

BAENGNYEONG ISLAND, South Korea (March 27) -- Military divers have searched in vain for 46 marines missing since a South Korean ship exploded and sank near the tense maritime border with North Korea.

The exact cause of the explosion was unclear, but North Korea did not appear to be to blame. Families voiced their anger Saturday as hopes faded for the missing crew in one of South Korea's worst naval disasters.

Divers tried twice to get to the wreckage, Rear Adm. Lee Ki-sik of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told lawmakers.

The explosion late Friday tore open the rear hull of the Cheonan, shut down its engine, wiped out power and caused the ship to sink a little over three hours later, the Joint Chiefs said.

A survivor, Staff Sgt. Shin Eun-chong, 24, told relatives he was on night duty when he heard a huge boom behind him that split apart the ship. The vessel started tilting, and his glasses fell off his face as he hit the deck, relatives at a naval base in Pyeongtaek told The Associated Press.

Military planes and boats searched the waters near South Korea's Baengnyeong Island where the 1,200-ton Cheonan had been on a routine patrol. Rescue efforts Saturday were hampered by fierce waves and high winds.

Fifty-eight of the crew of 104 were rescued, with some treated for burns and broken bones.

"Yells and screams filled the air," witness Kim Jin-ho, a seaman who was on a passenger ship bound for Baengnyeong, told cable news channel YTN. "Marines on deck were desperately shouting: 'Save me!'"

Despite early fears of an attack, there was no immediate indication that North Korea - which lies within sight about 10 miles (17 kilometers) from Baengnyeong - was to blame, the Joint Chiefs said. Still, troops were maintaining "solid military readiness," Vice Defense Minister Jang Soo-man said.

Earlier Friday, North Korea's military had threatened "unpredictable strikes" against the U.S. and South Korea in anger over a report the two countries plan to prepare for possible instability in the totalitarian country.

The ship went down near a disputed maritime border that has been the site of three bloody skirmishes between the Koreas, which remain in a state of war because their three-year conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953.

President Lee Myung-bak ordered officials to make all efforts to rescue the crew, spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye said.

"I can only imagine how much shock and pain the missing marines' families must be in," he said late Saturday, according to Kim.

Authorities have not confirmed any deaths, but Rear Adm. Lee told lawmakers he presumed most of the missing sailors were trapped inside, the Yonhap news agency said.

Joint Chiefs spokesman Park Seong-woo said the military will determine the cause of the accident after salvaging the vessel.

That could take weeks. In 2002, it took 17 days to salvage a 130-ton vessel struck in a surprise attack by North Korea, the Joint Chiefs said.

Cmdr. Jeff Davis, spokesman for the U.S. 7th Fleet in Japan, said U.S. ships were standing ready to help with the search, rescue and salvage operation.

In Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, wails filled the air as relatives checked a list of missing marines.

"Where are you? Where can you be?" one mother screamed.

Among the missing was a marine who had survived a 2002 naval skirmish with North Korea, Yonhap said.

Many relatives waited for news, their faces buried in tissues and handkerchiefs. However, about 150 people - fed up with the lack of information - pushed their way past armed security guards to confront military officials. They accused authorities of a cover-up, saying survivors told them the Cheonan was leaky and in need of repair.

"Liars!" some screamed, jumping up on the car of the Cheonan's rescued captain as he tried to drive away.

As family members scuffled with guards, some soldiers turned their guns onto the protesting relatives.

"I find this gruesome reality - one where soldiers point their guns at heartstricken families of their comrades in arms - absolutely devastating and regrettable," said Chung Hae-kyung, 65, father of a missing lieutenant.

The sinking is one of South Korea's worst naval disasters. In 1974, a ship sank off the southeast coast in stormy weather, killing 159 sailors and coast guard personnel. In 1967, 39 sailors were killed by North Korean artillery.

March 27, 2015, 01:04:14 PM
Reply #10

Offline Peter

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Re: The Sinking of the Cheonan
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2015, 01:04:14 PM »
South Korea Mourns Hero Diver Who Died in Cheonan Ship Rescue

April 1, 2010

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak demanded a transparent investigation into the sinking of the corvette Cheonan Thursday, while the nation mourned a hero as the navy diver who died during rescue attempts on the wreck was memorialized.

The Cheonan sank in dangerous waters off North Korea Friday, following an as-yet unexplained explosion. Fifty-eight men were rescued; 46 remain missing.
"As it is a very sensitive and important question, (the government) will find the cause through a thorough and scientific investigation," Lee said to officials, a presidential official told CNN. Lee added that South Korea's "international credibility" rested on a transparent inquiry into the tragedy.

In 20-minute phone call with Lee the same day, U.S. President Barack Obama offered technical assistance, the official added.

Questions have been raised locally by media, politicians and grieving family members over whether the South Korean armed forces have the appropriate equipment for the job, and whether they responded appropriately.

Thirteen South Korean ships and two U.S. ships are on the scene, with 207 Korean divers and 15 American divers aboard. Diving operations were halted for a second day Thursday due to rough weather conditions.

Navy Chief Master Sergeant Han Joo-ho, 53, died after diving on the wreck Tuesday. Officials including Defense Minister Kim Tae-young and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Kim Sung-chan visited a memorial altar set up at a naval hospital in his memory; family members of those missing on the Cheonan also attended. Online, thousands have posted messages of condolence.

Diver dies in rescue effort near sunken ship

His funeral will be held Saturday.

Han, 53, was not ordered to dive on the wreck. "He was a coach at the naval diving school so did not have to be on the diving team," an official at the Defense Ministry told CNN. "He volunteered."

His son, an active-duty army officer, told local reporters that he had asked his father not to take risks diving on the wreck, but his father, "...used to say he wanted to live with honor."
The Cheonan's stern and bow lie over 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) apart on the seabed. The bow is 25 meters (27 yards) under water, while the stern, where the 46 missing crew members are believed to be, is 45 meters (49 yards) under water.

With currents under water exceeding 5 knots (6 miles per hour) and visibility below one meter (one yard), the wreck is extremely dangerous. Han, one of the Korean navy's most experienced divers, fell unconscious after reportedly exceeding recommended times and depths under water. Two other divers were hospitalized the same day. Both have now been released.

It is unclear whether intense public pressure contributed to the divers taking excessive risks.

Family members of the missing have consistently criticized the navy for what they consider an inadequate response to the disaster. The media is rife with speculation over what caused it -- theories range from North Korean suicide boats manned by female commandos to an errant mine -- and has been demanding answers.

A 130-ton patrol boat sunk in the Yellow Sea after a naval firefight in 2002 took three weeks to raise. The Cheonan, 1,200 tons, is considerably larger, and also in two pieces. The defense ministry source said that it may take a month to raise the wreck.

March 27, 2015, 01:04:48 PM
Reply #11

Offline Peter

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Re: The Sinking of the Cheonan
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2015, 01:04:48 PM »
Torpedo ‘Likely’ Cause of Sinking
Joongang Daily.
April 3, 2010.

Defense Minister Kim Tae-young said yesterday he thinks a torpedo attack is the more likely cause of the sinking of the Navy patrol ship Cheonan.

During a question-and-answer session on emergency matters at the National Assembly in Seoul, Kim said a torpedo attack and a sea mine blast were the two most likely causes of the tragedy, but he put more weight on the idea of a torpedo attack.

Kim’s response followed a question by ruling Grand National Party lawmaker Kim Dong-sung, who inquired which of two possible causes - torpedo or mine - was more likely.

“In case of a torpedo attack, either the weapon can hit the ship directly or it can explode right below the vessel and create a bubble jet effect (a type of underwater explosion) to break the ship,” Kim said. “The picture of the cut sections seems like it had been hit by a torpedo directly.”

Kim said that’s why the severed section of the Cheonan’s bow was shaped like the letter “C.”

The Defense Ministry made public Wednesday recorded footage by a thermal observation device showing the bow of the sunken Navy ship.

Kim said that a seismic wave detected at the time of the explosion was consistent with the blast of a North Korean torpedo.

The Korean Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources detected the seismic wave of 1.4 to 1.5 magnitude underwater when the Cheonan was presumed to have ripped in half.

Such magnitude is equivalent to an explosion of 170 to 180 kilograms (374 to 396 pounds) of TNT.

The minister added that a marine who recorded the footage with a thermal observation device on Baengnyeong Island, which was near the explosion in the Yellow Sea near the inter-Korean border, saw a type of water column that erupts after a torpedo blast.

Meanwhile, military rescue divers resumed an underwater operation in search of 46 missing crew members from the Cheonan yesterday.

The rescue mission, which was suspended for two days since Wednesday due to strong winds and high waves, resumed around 11 a.m., according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul.

“A total of 54 and 48 divers have implemented an underwater mission at the submerged rear and front sections of the ship, respectively,” said a defense official on condition of anonymity. “For the rear part, divers went down three times between 10:41 and 11:38 a.m. Other divers for the bow part also dived three times between 10:55 and 11:48 a.m.”

A total of 169 military divers from South Korea and the United States continued underwater operations throughout the day, with Washington also assisting with a rescue vessel, an amphibious ship and helicopters.

The ministry later said, however, no progress was made.

The Navy corvette Cheonan sank after an blast tore it apart near the tense Yellow Sea border with North Korea at night on March 26. Among 104 crew members on board, 58, including the captain, were pulled out to safety, while the others remain missing. Prospects for their survival are dim.

March 27, 2015, 01:05:45 PM
Reply #12

Offline Peter

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Re: The Sinking of the Cheonan
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2015, 01:05:45 PM »
South Korean Fishing Boat Apparently Sinks; 9 Missing

Taiwan News.
April 4, 2010.

The Coast Guard says a South Korean fishing boat that joined the search for a navy ship that sank with 46 sailors aboard last week has disappeared.
Coast Guard said Saturday it was searching for the 99-ton boat with seven South Korean and two Indonesian crew members on board. Contact with the boat was lost late Friday near the maritime border with North Korea.

The 1,200-ton navy ship went down following an explosion on March 26 during a routine patrol. Fifty-eight crew members, including the captain, were rescued.

No major progress has been made in locating the 46 missing sailors

March 27, 2015, 01:07:00 PM
Reply #13

Offline Peter

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Re: The Sinking of the Cheonan
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2015, 01:07:00 PM »
Salvaging of Sunken Ship Could Be Completed Next Weekend

The Korea Times.
April 10, 2010.

Bad weather conditions are still preventing efforts to salvage a South Korean naval warship that sank in the Yellow Sea last month, with salvage operations likely to be completed by next weekend, Yonhap News Agency reported Saturday, quoting military officials.

"We had originally planned to wrap up the salvage operation by April 15, but the plan has been continuously delayed due to the bad weather conditions near the site," a high-ranking official at the Defense Ministry said, asking not to be named.
"It seems that we could salvage the ship as early as (April) 17 or 18," the official said.

Strong wind and high waves have prevented divers' attempts to link chains to the 1,200-ton navy corvette Cheonan, the first phase in salvaging the ship that now lies more than 45 meters underwater.

The naval warship, manned by 104 sailors, broke in two and sank March 26 after a mysterious explosion near the maritime border in the Yellow Sea. A total of 58 people were quickly rescued from the bow of the warship, but efforts to locate the missing 46 were hampered by bad weather and strong currents.

After days of unsuccessful rescue operations, military divers have changed their focus to hoisting the hull of the sunken vessel above water for investigation.

One military diver died last week while trying to reach inside and pull out possible survivors from the warship amid rough conditions.

Military officials said that once the shipwreck is pulled out of the water and moved to navy headquarters in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, they and foreign experts will analyze what caused the mysterious explosion.

To enhance transparency and objectivity in the investigation, South Korea has asked other countries to take part in an investigation.

South Korea has been cautious about speculating on the cause of the explosion. South Korean officials have said that they will look at all possibilities, including a float mine or a torpedo from North Korea.

March 27, 2015, 01:08:05 PM
Reply #14

Offline Peter

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Re: The Sinking of the Cheonan
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2015, 01:08:05 PM »
North Korea Denies Sinking South's Navy Ship

ABC News.
April 17, 2010.

North Korea has denied it sank a South Korean naval vessel near their disputed sea border late last month.

There has been growing speculation in the South that the ship had been hit by a North Korean torpedo, killing 46 sailors and raising fears it could trigger conflict on the divided peninsula.

The North's KCNA news agency accused the conservative government in Seoul of trying to foist blame on its reclusive neighbour to boost sagging support ahead of local elections in the South in June.

"The puppet military warmongers, right-wing conservative politicians and the group of other traitors in South Korea are now foolishly seeking to link the accident with the north at any cost," the North's KCNA news agency quoted an unnamed military commentator as saying.

"Another sinister aim sought by the puppet regime in floating the ... story is to justify the persistent and anachronistic policy towards the DPRK (North Korea) and shirk the blame for having driven the inter-Korean relations to the worst crisis."

South Korea, which has already brought some of the wreck to the surface, has said the blast that sank the vessel was caused by an external explosion.

Investigators from several countries, including the United States, are trying to determine what caused the 1,200-tonne Cheonan to split in half and plunge some 45 metres.

South Korea's defence minister said this month it may have been hit by a torpedo, immediately thrusting suspicion on the North.

Local media has pinned the blame on North Korea in the absence of any other likely reasons, though official statements have been far more circumspect.

Few expect the South, worried about hurting its own economy in the midst of recovery, to risk taking military action against the North if investigations show Pyongyang sank the ship.

It is a delicate time for President Lee Myung-bak, whose relatively high ratings in opinion polls have dipped slightly following the sinking.

His defence minister and the military have come under some criticism for being slow over their handling of the issue.

Mr Lee wants a strong showing in the June elections to give him the political muscle he needs to push through more reforms, which have been floundering in an unruly parliament, even though it is dominated by his ruling party.

Relations between the two Koreas have been chilly since he took office early in 2008, ending years of generous aid which had helped prop up the North's broken economy.

South Korea raised the stern of the ship on Friday and expects to bring the rest to the surface in the next few days, as it searches for clues to one if its deadliest naval disasters since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a ceasefire.

The sinking could also complicate the resumption of stalled international talks on ending North Korea's atomic arms program in return for aid to prop up its broken economy, experts said.