Posted April. 01, 2010 02:58,
The South Korean naval patrol ship Sokcho did not head toward the site where the Cheonan sank Friday because the Sokcho was ordered to stand guard against North Korea.
The 1,200-ton Sokcho fired its 76-millimeter gun for five minutes at 10:57 p.m. Friday at an object that showed up on radar as North Korean semi-submarine.
A source from the South Korean military said, Though the Sokcho was in the vicinity of the Cheonan shortly after the latter sank, it did not head for the site of the incident since the Navy ordered it to stand guard against North Korea. At the Navys instruction, the Sokcho performed its duty for 90 minutes and fired at an unidentified object heading north.
Another South Korean military source said, The Sokcho fired because it considered an object appearing on radar as a North Korean semi-submarine that violated the Northern Limit Line.
The patrol ship apparently fired believing the object was a North Korean semi-submarine amid heightened tension instead of something that accidentally showed up on radar.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff said the sinking of the Cheonan is not directly related with the Sokchos firing, adding a flock of birds on radar was mistaken as a target.
Testimonies from military officials show that the Sokchos firing was a patrol strategy based on the possibility that the North attacked the Cheonan.
An official at the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not clarify the Sokchos duty but said, The Sokchos firing was an attempt to protect itself from an object heading north after the sinking of the Cheonan.
At the time, the South Korean military said, Initially, we judged that the object heading north was a semi-submarine, but it turned out to be just a flock of birds.