South Korea’s Defence Chief on Tuesday instructed Navy officials to mercilessly bury North Korean sailors at sea in the event of another North Korean provocation. Defence Minister Shin Won-sik remarked as he inspected the new 2,800-ton ROKS Cheonan frigate, which was deployed for operations to the headquarters of the Navy’s Second Fleet in Pyeongtaek, 60 km south of Seoul, on Saturday.
Shin told Navy officials and sailors to “mercilessly bury (the enemy) at sea if the enemy stages yet another provocation” after he paid tribute to 46 fallen sailors at the memorial monument at the headquarters of the Navy’s Second Fleet. In 2010, North Korea torpedoed the 1,200-ton-class Cheonan corvette near the western Northern Limit Line, the de-facto inter-Korean sea border, killing 46 South Korean sailors, Yonhap news agency reported.
A Seoul-led multinational investigation concluded that Pyongyang torpedoed the Cheonan warship, but North Korea has denied its involvement in the incident. The new Cheonan is the seventh warship produced as part of South Korea’s plans to procure eight new frigates designed to replace its ageing fleet of 1,500-ton frigates and 1,000-ton corvettes. The 122-metre-long frigate has a helicopter deck and is equipped with anti-ship and ship-to-ground missiles, anti-submarine torpedoes, as well as hull-mounted and towed array sonar systems to better detect enemy submarines.