Blaming North Korea, South offers detailed account of how torpedo sank Cheonan
South Korea laid out a detailed account of how a torpedo sank the Cheonan, a South Korean Navy vessel. The South has blamed North Korea for the attack that killed 46 sailors.
Seoul, South Korea
The prolonged investigation into the sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan does more than blame North Korea for the attack. It provides graphic details on the construction of a torpedo, how a torpedo works, and what happens when a torpedo is fired and hits its target.Skip to next paragraph
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In the campaign to generate international support for condemnation of North Korea, South Korea’s Defense Ministry meticulously summarized critical information in fairly simple language on the basis of conclusions reached by a Joint Civilian Military Investigation Group that included experts from 10 Korean agencies as well as the United States, Australia, Britain, and Sweden.
Here’s what happened after “a strong underwater explosion generated by the detonation of a homing torpedo below and to the left of the gas turbine room” of the Cheonan made it “split apart and sink,” according to the assessment of the Joint Civilian-Military Investigation group.
First, the “shockwave and bubble effect caused significant upward bending” of the keel of the vessel, “and the shell plate was steeply bent with some parts of the ship fragmented.”
Then, “on the main deck, fracture occurred around the large openings used for maintenance of equipment in the gas turbine room.” The bulkhead of the room “was significantly damaged and deformed.”
At the same time, “the bottoms of the stern and bow sections” were “bent upward” – further evidence of an underwater explosion.
Examined stern for six weeks
The investigation team, over the course of six weeks of examining the smaller stern section of the ship and the larger main portion, “found evidence of extreme pressure on the fin stabilizer,” needed to reduce rolling of the ship, as well as “water pressure and bubble effects on the bottom of the hull.” The fact that wires were cut “with no traces of heat” added to the impression of “a strong shockwave and bubble effect causing the splitting and the sinking of the ship.”
South Korean officials were convinced, after recovery of both portions of the ship, that North Korea was responsible, but the best evidence of a torpedo attack was discovery of the torpedo itself, including the motor with propellers and steering section, last Saturday.