Tags: Accident, Maritime Incident, North Korea, South Korea, USNS Salvor
It seems the South Korean patrol ship Cheonan split into two pieces. After the explosion, the stern sank immediately, while the other half took three hours to go down, floating about four miles before sinking. The stern has yet to be found.
That news in itself might suggest damage akin to a mine or torpedo, but some family members say the vessel was in poor condition:
Some families vented anger at the military, accusing authorities of a cover-up and saying survivors told them the Cheonan was leaky and in need of repair. They jumped on a car carrying the rescued captain of the Cheonan.
Defense Ministry spokesman Won Tae-jae said that the United States 3,000-ton salvation ship Salvo is scheduled to arrive this morning at the area of the sinking to support the search and rescue missions. Specially trained U.S. military divers will join the operations.
US sources say the Salvor is standing by:
U.S. Navy vessels including the USNS Salvor rescue and salvage ship are standing by to help in the event South Korea requests assistance, said Lt. Anthony Falvo, a spokesman for the U.S. Seventh Fleet, based in Japan. The American ships were wrapping up a joint training exercise nearby with South Korea.
“Should our forces be requested to provide assistance, that would be one of our main units,” Falvo said in a telephone interview.
It will be interesting to see how the investigation plays out. And as to North Korea’s response to the presence of a U.S. naval vessel near the contested sea border? Their response is anyone’s guess.
Korea’s “Remember the Maine” moment may still arrive.