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Posts Tagged ‘warship’

N.Korea ready to provide torpedo sample over warship sinking

In Uncategorized on November 2, 2010 at 8:43 am

N.Korea sought summit after warship sinking: report

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2010 at 7:21 am

SEOUL, Aug 19, 2010 (AFP) – North Korea proposed a summit with South Korea even after tensions mounted dramatically over the deadly sinking of one of Seoul’s warships, a newspaper reported.

North Korea made the proposal last month in an apparent bid to secure economic aid from South Korea but the idea was rejected by Seoul, the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper reported Wednesday, quoting an unnamed high-ranking official.

“North Korea sent us a request to hold an inter-Korean summit even after it sank the (warship),” the official said, referring to what South Korea says was an attack by North Korea on a corvette in March that killed 46 sailors.

“This is its typical carrot-and-stick strategy. North Korea superficially proclaims military retaliation against sanctions imposed on it, while suggesting an inter-Korean summit under the table.”

But the South’s unification ministry denied the report.

“The report is not true,” spokeswoman Lee Jong-Joo told reporters. “North Korea has yet to change its attitude.”

South Korean police SWAT team members run past an exhibit mascot during an anti-terror drill as part of a joint US-South Korean military exercise in Seoul on August 18, 2010. AFP

Pyongyang had wanted Seoul to resume economic assistance before any summit between President Lee Myung-Bak and its leader Kim Jong-Il, Dong-A said.

It called for a summit last December, designating then South Korean labour minister Yim Tae-Hee as dialogue partner, but Seoul failed to give a clear answer to Pyongyang for months, the paper said.

Yim, one of Lee’s close confidants, reportedly held a secret meeting with a North Korean official in Singapore late last year in an unsuccessful attempt to arrange a summit.

After Yim became chief of presidential staff last month, the North asked Seoul to send someone to the North’s border city of Kaesong for discussions on the proposed summit, Dong-A said.

A South Korean official did travel to Kaesong but told North Korean officials that Seoul would not accept Pyongyang’s proposal, citing cross-border tensions, it said.

Seoul and Pyongyang have been engaged in a war of words since the March sinking of the Cheonan near the disputed sea border, which a multinational inquiry found was caused by a North Korean torpedo.

The two neighbours held a first-ever summit in 2000 and a second followed in 2007, when Seoul’s left-leaning leaders were practising a “sunshine” aid and engagement policy with Pyongyang.

Lee, a conservative, took office in 2008 and linked major aid to progress in the North’s nuclear disarmament, sparking anger in Pyongyang. Nevertheless, the impoverished North put out peace feelers about a year ago.

In a speech Sunday, Lee outlined a three-step plan for reunification with the North, starting with Pyongyang giving up its nuclear arsenal.

But the North blasted Lee’s plan as “ridiculous rhetoric to force the DPRK (North Korea) to disarm itself”.

“The vituperations let loose by the traitor are tantamount to a declaration of an all-out confrontation to bring down the system in the DPRK,” the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement Tuesday.

South Korea and the United States launched their annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint exercises Monday, the latest in a series being staged by the South either alone or with the US.

The Pentagon on Wednesday confirmed a South Korean press report that Washington and Seoul were planning a joint anti-submarine exercise in the Yellow Sea in September.

“We are going to continue a series of exercises that are of a defensive nature and are designed to send a clear message to North Korea,” said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman.

“The next exercise in that series will focus on anti-submarine warfare. The exercise will be conducted in the waters off the western coast of the Korean peninsula and begin early next month.”

The North’s foreign ministry warned Wednesday that Pyongyang “is ready both for dialogue and war and has all means and methods to defend itself”.

“The US and the South Korean authorities should understand that there is a critical point in the tension, too, and should not calculate they can evade the blame for the explosive situation,” a ministry spokesman said, in a statement quoted by state media.

Source: SGGP

Russia insists on tech transfer in French warship deal

In Uncategorized on July 24, 2010 at 11:18 am

Russia’s top naval commander Saturday insisted its purchase of French warships would only go ahead if there were a transfer of technology, warning that otherwise there was “no point” in the deal.

French Mistral-class helicopter carrier

The comments by Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky come a day after French President Nicolas Sarkozy assured workers at a French shipyard that the decision to go ahead with the deal was “certain”.

“What is important here is to obtain the possibility of a transfer of key, fundamental technologies… not just in ship building but in several other areas,” Vysotsky told the Echo of Moscow radio.

“This is without doubt the main condition for this transaction. If this does not happen then there is no point in undertaking this,” he added.

“We do not need the ship but we do need its possibilities.”

Russia has been negotiating with France for months to buy the Mistral-class helicopter carriers but the deal has yet to be finalised, with the issue of technology transfer apparently the main sticking point.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told AFP last month that Moscow would only go ahead with the deal if it included a transfer of the technology that makes the Mistral one of the most powerful in the French fleet.

The deal would be the first sale of advanced military hardware to Russia by a NATO country.

Source: SGGP

S.Korea to send envoy to China over warship sinking

In Uncategorized on June 7, 2010 at 10:25 am

SEOUL, June 7, 2010 (AFP) – South Korea will send an envoy to China this week to seek support for its campaign for the UN Security Council to censure North Korea over the sinking of a warship, officials said Monday.

Vice Foreign Minister Chun Yung-Woo will visit China for two days from Tuesday, a foreign ministry spokesman told AFP.

Chun visited the United States last week as part of Seoul’s diplomatic drive.

South Korea formally asked the council Friday to respond to North Korea’s sinking of one of its warships in March with the loss of 46 lives, despite the north’s threat of retaliation.

UN ambassador Park In-kook told reporters he handed a letter to the council’s chairman, Mexican ambassador Claude Heller, requesting action “commensurate with the gravity of the situation”.

The South can expect support from the United States, Britain and France but China and Russia, the other two veto-wielding permanent council members, have not publicly stated their position.

A multinational investigation team said last month there was overwhelming evidence that a North Korean submarine fired a torpedo to break the Cheonan in two near the disputed border in March.

Source: SGGP

Sunken South Korean warship overshadows Clinton Asia tour

In Uncategorized on May 20, 2010 at 5:04 am

WASHINGTON, May 20, 2010 (AFP) – North Korea’s alleged sinking of a South Korean warship is set to dominate US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Asian tour after she leaves Washington on Thursday.

The culmination of the investigation into the sinking of the Cheonan has thrust its way to the top of Clinton’s program, which was originally to center on the US-China economic and strategic dialogue in Beijing on May 24-25.

A multinational team of investigators concluded it was indeed a torpedo fired by a North Korean submarine that sank the South Korean warship, killing 46 sailors in one of the country’s worst naval tragedies.

Yoon Duk-Yong, co-head of the team investigating the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan, talks during a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Seoul on May 20, 2010. AFP photo

“The evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that the torpedo was fired by a North Korean submarine,” the team said in its report on the March 26 sinking that split the 1,200-tonne corvette in half near the two Koreas’ disputed border.

“There is no other plausible explanation.”

Kurt Campbell, the top US diplomat for Asia, said “a central issue of discussion” for Clinton’s talks with Chinese officials will be “their assessments of developments in North Korea and their reaction to the report.”

The ship’s sinking is expected to be taken before the UN Security Council.

“One of the reasons Secretary Clinton is traveling to the region, to both Japan and South Korea, is to articulate and put in place a set of responses” to the investigation’s findings, Campbell said of the chief US diplomat’s fifth trip to Asia since taking office more than a year ago.

The responses could be presented on May 26 in Seoul, the last stop on Clinton’s nearly week-long tour that will also take her to Tokyo, Shanghai and Beijing.

Praising the report into the Cheonan’s sinking as an “objective and scientific review of the evidence,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the United States “strongly condemns” the attack.

According to South Korean media, Seoul could announce joint naval maneuvers in the Yellow Sea, where the ship was sunk.

When she arrives in Tokyo on Friday, Clinton will discuss the sunken ship and the future of the US base at Futenma during talks with her Japanese counterpart Katsuya Okada and Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

In Shanghai, she will spend most of Saturday visiting the US and Chinese pavilions at the World Expo.

The US pavilion tops the list of national displays Chinese visitors want to see, according to market research by Millward Brown.

That represents a major turnaround from just a year ago, when the United States looked like it would be an Expo no-show.

Source: SGGP

Clues suggest NKorean sub behind warship attack

In Uncategorized on May 10, 2010 at 4:48 am

 Experts say North Korea‘s submarine fleet is technologically backward, prone to sinking or running aground, and all but useless outside its own coastal waters.

And yet many are asking: Could it have been responsible for the explosion that sank a South Korean warship in March? And if so, how could a sub have slipped through the defenses of South Korea, which, with significant American backing, maintains a fleet far more sophisticated than its northern neighbor’s?

In this April 24, 2010 file photo, a giant offshore crane salvages the bow section of the South Korean naval ship Cheonan off Baengnyeong Island, South Korea

Evidence collected thus far indicates a torpedo hit the Cheonan, killing 46 sailors, and suspicion is growing that it was launched from a small North Korean submarine. That scenario would make it the most serious attack on the South Korean military since the peninsula’s war ended in a truce in 1953.

“While the North Korean submarine force reflects dated technology by Western standards, North Korean submarines during wartime would present significant challenges, particularly in coastal areas,” according to the Arlington, Virginia-based Global Security think tank. “North Korea has placed high priority on submarine construction programs, which are ongoing despite its economic hardships.”

Without witnesses or communications traffic to use as evidence, proving North Korea was behind the attack is difficult.

Still, teams conducting an intensive salvage and analysis mission are beginning to put the pieces together.

Officials say they know the 1,200-ton warship — a small, lightly armed frigate that split in half while on patrol in waters near the Koreas’ tense western maritime border — sank after a powerful external blast created a shock wave of the sort normally associated with a torpedo or mine.

South Korean media have reported that traces of the high explosive RDX have been found in the wreckage, which would also be consistent with a torpedo attack.

“It is plausible that the ship was hit by a torpedo,” Joseph Bermudez, a North Korea military expert and senior analyst for the London-based Jane’s Information Group, told The Associated Press.

North Korean subs are not state-of-the-art. Instead, they underscore impoverished North Korea’s focus on “asymmetric” warfare — the use of stealthy, relatively low-cost weapons that many a ragtag fighting force have proved can open up big holes in conventional defenses.

The “vast majority” operated by the North Korean navy and intelligence agencies are capable of carrying torpedoes and sea mines, as are some of the intelligence agencies’ semi-submersible infiltration landing craft, Bermudez said.

“If the sinking was caused by a torpedo, then I would say that this was a deliberate act of aggression,” Bermudez added.

Investigation results are expected within weeks, reports say, and Seoul has been extremely cautious in its comments on the sinking. It initially said there was no indication the North was to blame, and publicly fingering the North appears to hold little upside for Seoul, at any rate. Pyongyang has denied any role in the disaster.

But the idea that a North Korean submersible may have slid so close to the Cheonan undetected has been a wake-up call for the South, which has vowed to strengthen its defenses against low-tech, asymmetric warfare. On Sunday, Seoul set up a task force to review and revamp its defenses.

Many South Korean experts had previously thought that such subs were unable to launch effective attacks, and were of more use for simply crossing the border.

“It shows that both the South Korean and U.S. surveillance and reconnaissance missions either failed or were not in operation in the area where the incident took place,” Tong Kim, a visiting professor at Korea University in Seoul, said. “Apparently there was no signal or geospatial intelligence on the movement of a North Korea submarine, if it was involved in the incident. The Cheonan’s submarine detector must have failed.”

It would not be the first time North Korean submarines have been used to harass or spy on the South.

In 1996, a North Korean submarine ran aground on underwater rocks northeast of Seoul. The 26 commandos aboard tried to flee overland back to the North, but after several skirmishes all but one were killed, along with 17 South Koreans.

Two years later, another submarine was entangled in South Korean fishing nets.

By analyzing the size of the hole bored in the ship, retrieving any residue from the explosion — such as RDX — and looking at tides and currents at the time of the blast, the multinational team of investigators should be able to determine how large the device that caused the damage was and even where it came from.

Already, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper has reported that South Korean and U.S. intelligence agencies detected a submarine “disappearing and reappearing” at a North Korean base near the site of the downing around the time the Cheonan sank.

South Korean officials refused to comment, as did Japan-based spokesmen for the U.S. 7th Fleet, which joined in the salvage effort and investigation.

But leaders in Seoul have expressed outrage that the country’s defenses appear to have been breached.

“We will remember this day as a day of shame,” Defense Minister Kim Tae-young said last week, calling the sinking a “surprise attack” that caught the South’s military off guard.

Source: SGGP

S.Korea minister vows retaliation over sunk warship

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 8:34 am

Seoul’s defence minister on Sunday vowed retaliation over the sinking of a South Korean warship which killed 46 sailors near the disputed sea border with North Korea last month.

“Those responsible for killing our soldiers must pay the price,” Defence Minister Kim Tae-Young told a KBS television programme aired nationwide Sunday.

“Retaliation — in whatever form it is — must be done.”

It echoed South Korean Navy chief Admiral Kim Sung-Chan’s reprisal pledge during Thursday’s mass funeral for the sailors, attended by President Lee Myung-Bak.

Lee will preside over a scheduled meeting of key military commanders on Tuesday to discuss the sinking of the Cheonan, becoming the first South Korea president to chair such a meeting, his office said Sunday.

“President Lee will check what tasks the Cheonan incident handed to our military and people, and state his position as the supreme commander of the armed forces,” presidential spokesman Park Sun-Kyoo said.

South Korea has not openly blamed its communist neighbour for the blast which tore apart the 1,200-tonne corvette Cheonan in the Yellow Sea on March 26.

But tensions between Pyongyang and Seoul have been simmering since the sinking, with suspicions growing that the North might have been behind the incident.

The North denies involvement.

Defence Minister Kim told the KBS show on Sunday that tiny “slivers of aluminium” collected from where the ship went down were being examined to see if they came from weapons used to sink the ship.

Kim has said a heavy torpedo was among the likeliest causes of the sinking. But he cautioned that the aluminium pieces, three millimetres (0.12 inches) in size, were not yet treated as “decisive” evidence, adding the probe should clarify if they belong to the vessel or something else.

Searchers are scouring the seabed for any other clues that could confirm whether the Cheonan was attacked.

Defence ministry officials said Sunday investigators were also trying to recover video images from surveillance cameras aboard the sunken ship to help determine what downed the vessel.

“The investigation team is trying to recover the images of five to six closed circuit televisions installed at key passages and ammunition rooms on the vessel in a bid to get a clue to finding out situations at the time of the explosion,” a ministry official said.

The Yellow Sea area was the scene of deadly naval clashes in 1999 and 2002, and of a firefight last November which set a North Korean patrol boat ablaze.

The sinking of the warship has effectively put a brake on diplomatic efforts aimed at reviving six-nation nuclear disarmament talks on North Korea.

The North has also seized some assets owned by Seoul at the North’s Mount Kumgang tourist resort and announced it would let a new partner take over the tour business there from South Korea’s Hyundai Asan.

Source: SGGP

S.Korea to salvage sunk warship after calling off rescue

In Uncategorized on April 4, 2010 at 11:23 am

SEOUL, April 4, 2010 (AFP) – South Korea prepared Sunday to salvage a warship that sank more than a week ago near a disputed sea border with North Korea after calling off a dangerous operation to rescue its missing crewmen.

The operation stopped at the request of relatives of the missing sailors late Saturday after rescuers recovered the first body from the sunken warship, military officials said.

Family members (C) cry as South Korean sailors carry the body of Senior Chief Petty Officer Nam Ki-Hoon, who was one of 46 sailors missing from the ship, at the naval base in Pyeongtaek on April 4, 2010. AFP photo

“The rescue operation has been called off. The military will do its best to salvage the ship together with civilian experts,” defence ministry spokesman Yoon Won-Shik told reporters.

Navy officials said it would take weeks to lift the ship from the sea floor.

The 1,200-tonne Cheonan, crewed by 104 sailors, broke in two and sank on March 26 after a mystery explosion near the maritime border in the Yellow Sea.

A total of 58 people were rescued from the bow section of the 88-metre (290-foot) warship soon after but efforts to locate the missing 46 crew were hampered by bad weather and strong currents.

Navy officials said the body of Senior Chief Petty Officer Nam Ki-Hoon was retrieved from the petty officers’ mess hall of the sunken corvette.

After receiving confirmation of Nam’s death, the families of the missing crew asked the military to halt the rescue.

“We decided to request the military to stop the search and rescue operation and begin work to salvage the hull,” Choi Soo-Dong, representing the families, told reporters.

“Divers must not be sacrificed any more,” he said.

A navy diver died last week during the rescue operation.

Officials are still searching for answers as to what caused the ship to break in two in the murky waters off Baengyeong Island.

Military and presidential officials have dismissed media reports that the ship had been tracking North Korean submarines at the time.

Defence Minister Kim Tae-Young said Friday a torpedo might have sunk it but did not indicate who might have fired one.

Seoul has not cited any evidence that the North was involved, although the defence minister earlier in the week said a North Korean mine — either drifting or deliberately placed — might have caused the disaster.

The disaster site is close to the disputed border which was the scene of deadly naval clashes between North and South Korea in 1999 and 2002 and of a firefight last November.

South Korea’s navy, backed by fishing boats and US military divers, had been struggling against high waves and strong currents to explore the hull of the warship where many of the missing sailors could have been trapped.

A 2,000-tonne sea crane to be used to recover the wreck arrived Saturday near the site where the warship went down. The navy said a US landing ship was also ready nearby.

Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering said its 3,600-tonne crane would join the salvage operation.

A total of four giant cranes and three barges will be used to lift the front and rear sections of the sunken corvette from the sea floor, navy officials said.

The area around where the Cheonan went down has been crowded with ships and aircraft combing the sea.

Two people including an Indonesian sailor died and seven were missing after their fishing boat, which had been helping in the search, collided late Friday with a Cambodian-registered freighter, coast guard officials said.

The missing also included an Indonesian fisherman, they said.

The body of Nam has been transferred via helicopter to a naval command in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul.

But at his family’s request, his funeral will be delayed until the fate of his missing colleagues is confirmed, navy officials said.

Source: SGGP

S.Korea orders military on alert after blast sinks warship

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2010 at 7:57 am

BAENGNYEONG ISLAND, South Korea, March 30, 2010 (AFP) – President Lee Myung-Bak ordered South Korea’s military Tuesday to stay alert against North Korea, after a mystery blast sank one of its warships near the tense border.

“Since the incident happened at the frontline, the government should be thoroughly prepared to cope with any movement on the part of North Korea,” he told a cabinet meeting in Seoul, according to a presidential statement.

“The armed forces are urged to maintain full alert without the slightest breach,” Lee said, before flying by helicopter to Baengnyeong Island near the disputed boundary with an escort of jet fighters.

Lee cautioned against drawing a “hasty conclusion” about the blast which tore a 1,200-tonne corvette in two late Friday and left 46 sailors missing.

South Korean Navy Ship Salvage Unit members launch rubber boats from Landing Ship Tank LST-685 Seonginbong to search for possible survivors and bodies on March 29, 2010. AFP photo

His defence minister Kim Tae-Young said Monday a drifting North Korean mine dating back to the 1950-53 war might have caused the blast, or that the North might have intentionally sent a mine floating towards the ship.

Seoul officials have not raised any evidence the North was to blame for the sinking near the Yellow Sea border, the scene of deadly naval clashes in 1999 and 2002 and of a firefight last November.

US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said in Washington he had heard nothing to implicate any other country in the tragedy.

Lee later Tuesday became the country’s first president to visit Baengnyeong Island, 16 kilometres (10 miles) from North Korea’s coast, where guided missile and artillery batteries are deployed.

“Fighter jets were on patrol during his trip to the island because it is very close to major North Korean military camps,” said his spokesman Park Sun-Kyoo.

The president’s helicopter landed on an amphibious landing ship supervising the rescue. He travelled by small boat to another ship for a briefing and visited a Marine Corp base on the island to meet families of the missing.

Rescuers refused to abandon hope for sailors feared trapped in the stern section of the 88-metre (290 foot) Cheonan, even though divers Monday heard no response when they banged on the sunken hull.

“Work is under way in the belief that there could be survivors,” military spokesman Lee Ki-Shik said.

Rescuers late Monday injected oxygen through a crack into the stern, which rests at a 90 degree angle on the bed of the Yellow Sea. But divers could not find a way inside amid swift currents and cold murky water.

They were trying again Tuesday to access both sections.

A total of 58 crewmen were saved soon after the ship went down in near-freezing waters off Baengnyeong island. No one has been saved since then despite a major air and sea search, which Tuesday involved 19 South Korean or US vessels, eight helicopters and 170 rescue personnel.

Source: SGGP

S.Korea hunts for 46 missing after mystery blast on warship

In Uncategorized on March 28, 2010 at 10:28 am

BAENGNYEONG ISLAND, South Korea, March 28, 2010 (AFP) – Ships and aircraft searched Sunday for 46 sailors missing after a mystery explosion tore a South Korean warship apart, as tearful relatives urged the military to work faster.

“My son, where are you in that cold water?” wept a woman carrying a framed photo of him as she waited for news at a navy base south of Seoul.

In one of the country’s worst naval disasters, the 1,200-tonne corvette Cheonan with 104 crew on board sank late Friday in the Yellow Sea near the tense disputed border with North Korea.

South Korean marines search for possible survivors on March 28,2010. AFP photo

Seoul officials have not so far suggested Pyongyang was involved.

Only 58 sailors have so far been rescued after the blast ripped the ship in half off Baengnyeong island. Hopes for the remainder were fading fast, with water temperatures only a few degrees above freezing.

President Lee Myung-Bak urged rescuers not to abandon hope.

“Utmost efforts must be exerted in carrying out the rescue mission in the belief that missing crew members could still be alive,” he told a security meeting Sunday, according to spokesman Park Sun-Kyoo.

Lee also ordered a thorough probe with all possibilities taken into account, warning against “jumping to conclusions” prematurely.

Defence ministry spokesman Won Tae-Jae told a briefing it would take “a significant time to reach a reliable conclusion” about the cause of the blast.

But angry and tearful families protested at what they called a lack of information and slow progress in locating the missing.

Choppy seas, strong currents and poor visibility foiled two attempts Sunday by military divers to access the sunken hull.

“Just fetch any divers, not just military ones but also civilian ones, to rescue them,” said one woman at the naval base at Pyeongtaek south of Seoul whose husband is among the missing

A naval boat left Pyeongtaek to take 88 family members to the scene of the tragedy off Baengnyeong island.

On Saturday some distraught family members had called the Cheonan’s captain a “liar” after he gave briefings on the blast at the navy base.

“The ship was torn apart and the stern sank immediately,” the captain, Choi Won-Il, told relatives Saturday, saying power and communications were lost.

“I was trapped in the cabin for five minutes before my colleagues broke the window in and let me out. When I got out, the stern had disappeared.”

A salvage ship and two mine-detecting boats were at the scene Sunday. A US military salvage ship is set to join the rescue effort Monday, Seoul’s defence ministry said.

The military has said many of the missing sailors may be trapped inside the submerged hull.

The 88-metre (290-foot) craft was said to carry missiles, torpedoes and other weaponry and munitions.

The tragedy occurred near the disputed sea border between North and South Korea, scene of deadly naval clashes in 1999 and 2002 and of a firefight last November.

But Seoul said there were no abnormal military movements at the time on the North Korean side of the border amnd the .

“Military experts and warship engineers increasingly think the blast was accidental,” Baek Seung-Joo, senior analyst of Seoul’s Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, told AFP.

“There must have been a very powerful explosion inside the vessel.

“Chances are low that the ship — with anti-submarine, anti-aircraft and anti-ship warfare capability — was attacked by a missile, a torpedo or cannon fire and helplessly sank after a single blow.”

The ship might have hit a drifting mine, which triggered an internal explosion, he said.

Source: SGGP