September 13th, 2010
08:59 AM ET

South Korea's final word on sinking: North's torpedo blast

A final report says a torpedo caused shockwaves that sunk a South Korean ship killing 46 sailors.

South Korea on Monday released its final report on the March sinking of the warship Cheonan, reaffirming that a North Korean torpedo sent the Cheonan to the bottom of the Yellow Sea, killing 46 sailors.

The full report, prepared based on an investigation conducted by South Korean, U.S., Swedish, British and Australian officials, offers new details to back up May’s preliminary report on the incident.

“The ROK Navy ship Cheonan was sunk by a North Korean torpedo attack while conducting a normal mission in the vicinity of Baengnyeong Island at 09:22 p.m. on March 26, 2010,” the English-version of the report says in its conclusion, according to a Korea Times report.

The report says the torpedo did not strike the ship, but the shockwave generated when it exploded nearby split the Cheonan in two.

"The detonation location was 3 meters to the port from the center of the gas turbine room and at a depth of 6 to 9 meters. The weapon system used was a CHT-02D torpedo with approximately 250 kilograms of explosives manufactured by North Korea." South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quotes the report as saying.

The shockwave effect is substantiated by survivors’ accounts, according to the Yonhap report.

"Forty-one survivors said that they smelled oil, but there were no witnesses of flames, fire or a water column, nor were there any injuries from these factors," Yonhap quotes the full report as saying.

Critics say the final report still leaves questions. For instance, while investigators found traces of explosives on the hull of the Cheonan, no trace of explosives was found on torpedo parts recovered from the scene.

Investigators said that could be because the torpedo parts were too small to hold trace explosives, according to a Korea Herald report.

The final report also includes communication between the captain of the Cheonan, Cmdr. Choi Won-il, and his boss, squadron commander Capt. Lee Won-bo, according to Yonhap.

"I think we've been hit by something," Choi tells Lee.

"What do you think it is?" Lee asks.

"I think it's a torpedo," Choi says.

North Korea has denied any involvement in the sinking of the Cheonan, calling the results of the preliminary report “sheer fabrication,” according to its official Korea Central News Agency. KCNA had not yet posted any reaction to the full report.

U.S. forces during the summer conducted anti-submarine exercises with South Korea. Further exercises are planned, U.S. officials say.

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Filed under: North Korea • South Korea
soundoff (144 Responses)
  1. Dirigo

    It's intersting that people like Risab would look at a video of north korea shooting the missile and still blame it on the USA. Like burning the flag and effigy of our elected president (such as he is) and scream bloody murder at the very threat of a burned koran. It's time to leave the middle east. They have proven they deserve each other and the loss of one more American soldier in defense of the freedom they will never enjoy is unacceptable.

    September 13, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • BuzzMann

      Have to agree,and with my son leaving for boot camp in 8 days,I say get out sooner rather than latter.

      September 13, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bystander

      Until the US discovers an absolutely ginormous, inexhaustible pool of black gold under home shores or at most in the Gulf of Mexico, leaving the Middle East isn't going to happen.

      September 14, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  2. DavidJ

    If South Korea resumed their war with the North, provided China and Russia stay out of it, it would be bloody, but the South would be victorious. Then what? Then they have to feed all of North Korea! they would be flooded with millions of refugees. Their economy would be dragged down to third world levels in a matter of weeks. Nobody in their right mind would want reunification under those conditions. So I'm not too concerned with a shooting war starting up any time soon.

    September 13, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mike

    Two things: (a) no one cares enough about North Koreans to start a shooting war, millions have been starved and murdered already and it didn't faze anyone; and (b) the notion of "war" implies a sustained period of hostilities enabled by large-scale logistical activity. North Korea's logistics infrastructure could handle about 41 seconds of sustained warfare, after which point it would fold like a lawn chair. It's not a question of "fighting spirit", it's a question of money and resources, and they simply don't have much of either. There are dis-organized crime gangs that have better logistics infrastructure than North Korea.

    September 13, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. wow

    Good point David J

    September 13, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • DavidJ

      Thanks!

      September 13, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. yoko

    South Korea won't and is not doing anything about this for this same reason Israel is not bombing Iran right now. That is, the US is telling them "wait, they will get theirs, we need more time to gather up allies." WWIII is approaching and Israel, Iran, Russia, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, North Korea and possibly China will make up the axis.

    September 13, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • BuzzMann

      I bet WW3 will last all of 5 minutes.1 launch,2 launch,3 launch,everybody cry.

      September 13, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Your saying Israel would be the Axis? On the same team as Iran? Your an idiot.

      September 13, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jaspreet

    JUST BOMB F'in NORTH KOREA!!!

    September 13, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lol, my name is jaspreet too!

      tht isnt very smart, we need more info first.

      September 13, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. rayzer

    One point about explosive residue. To maximize damage, most explosives are shaped charges, i.e., they direct their charges forward in front of them. This is speculation, but the larger fragments that are more likely to survive to be found would probably be from the aft end of the torpedo, which would tend to have less residue.

    September 13, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. p jett

    Peace. Peace.

    No war. Anyting we would do with much sea power would cause a nuke incident. That could lead to WW 111
    Pray and think about it all?

    September 13, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. R.W

    lol
    There is NO WWIII. Its impossible to happen. Think about this, US is a powerfull nation. IF N.K sink or attack S.K
    we could just stop selling goods and oil to N.K Therefore they will stop attacking and beg for resources!!!
    HAHAHA

    September 13, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. steve

    This just gives me more evidence that the Iraq War was not about WMDs. Here we have North Korea, a nation with WMDs, a wacko for a leader, an act of war and we do nothing. Granted, waging war is not without diplomatic consequences as N. Korea has a lot more powerful friends than Iraq ever did but the White House and Pentagon should be seriously considering military action against this rogue nation. It disgusts me to know that there are still regimes like Kim Jong IL's in the world. I feel sorry for the N. Korean people.

    September 13, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jay

    I would be more worried if this is a Ship of US design, which by appearances, it is.

    September 13, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ben10plus10

    wow gordon freeman you must be from half-life. nice!

    September 13, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gordon Freeman

      You betcha. I've got the glasses, Alix and a gravity gun to prove it!

      September 14, 2010 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  13. SamMejia

    South Korea on Monday released its final report on the March sinking of the warship Cheonan, reaffirming that a North Korean torpedo sent the Cheonan to the bottom of the Yellow Sea, killing 46 sailors.

    The full report, prepared based on an investigation conducted by South Korean, U.S., Swedish, British and Australian officials, offers new details to back up May’s preliminary report on the incident.

    “The ROK Navy ship Cheonan was sunk by a North Korean torpedo attack while conducting a normal mission in the vicinity of Baengnyeong Island at 09:22 p.m. on March 26, 2010,” the English-version of the report says in its conclusion, according to a Korea Times report.

    The report says the torpedo did not strike the ship, but the shockwave generated when it exploded nearby split the Cheonan in two.

    "The detonation location was 3 meters to the port from the center of the gas turbine room and at a depth of 6 to 9 meters. The weapon system used was a CHT-02D torpedo with approximately 250 kilograms of explosives manufactured by North Korea." South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quotes the report as saying.

    The shockwave effect is substantiated by survivors’ accounts, according to the Yonhap report.

    "Forty-one survivors said that they smelled oil, but there were no witnesses of flames, fire or a water column, nor were there any injuries from these factors," Yonhap quotes the full report as saying.

    Critics say the final report still leaves questions. For instance, while investigators found traces of explosives on the hull of the Cheonan, no trace of explosives was found on torpedo parts recovered from the scene.

    Investigators said that could be because the torpedo parts were too small to hold trace explosives, according to a Korea Herald report.

    The final report also includes communication between the captain of the Cheonan, Cmdr. Choi Won-il, and his boss, squadron commander Capt. Lee Won-bo, according to Yonhap.

    "I think we've been hit by something," Choi tells Lee.

    "What do you think it is?" Lee asks.

    "I think it's a torpedo," Choi says.

    North Korea has denied any involvement in the sinking of the Cheonan, calling the results of the preliminary report “sheer fabrication,” according to its official Korea Central News Agency. KCNA had not yet posted any reaction to the full report.

    U.S. forces during the summer conducted anti-submarine exercises with South Korea. Further exercises are planned, U.S. officials say. jkjk

    THIS IS MY ARTICLE

    September 13, 2010 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bwgiedoyggpna

    Russia has their team to investigate incident, how come they are keeping lips tight after back to Moscow

    September 13, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Abe L. D'Anger

    SSN 771 fired on the Cheonan, after confirmation of intercept relay, linking the Cheonan to effort contradicting the mission,..it was a leak plugged.

    September 13, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
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