I am surprised that a seafaring, modern nation on continuous war-footing like S. Korea thus far has been unable to insert military and commercial divers equipped with gear that is suited to cold water and extended bottom time at 40 meter depth into the area where Cheonan went down. I appreciate the local weather and sea conditions have been severe, and the distance from the mainland, but S. Korea shouldn't have lost a brave diver to decompression sickness, apparent, in water that "shallow." Recreational divers on Lake Superior dive wrecks deeper in water just as cold and they do just fine and without elaborate support, though there are several recompression chambers nearby. 0.02
Hey, 130 rounds of 76mm fired at a flock of birds invites speculation. Ditto for conflicting reports by eyewitnesses and high government officials/military. Coincident regional and world events invite it. If something looks like a duck, waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck odds are it's a duck (but may not be "fowl" at all in actuality). No doubt a link to the dispositive report will be published here; but until then ... ;>)
I think DA was only suggesting that it's entirely possible the ship's hull breached from contacting a wreck or natural object, rapidly filled with water and snapped its spine. Me, I suspect the NorKs meticulously scripted the event based on years of observation and planning. When the little flotilla changed course for behind the island the NorKs dispatched one of their stealthy semi-submersibles based in the area (reportedly they have 20-some stationed nearby) which sprinted under radar cover of the island to a set firing position and submerged with only a periscope and whip above the waves. Shore-based surveillance may have contributed. Ships rounded the island and the NorK boat launched a single passive homer that crept at quiet speed toward the predict point, picked up the engine or prop noise and then struck and shattered the keel. The NorK boat waited, saw another ship heading its way, popped up, sprinted for friendly waters and fired-off decoys at intervals, which blew around in the winds. Sokcho felt it had enough information to open fire and shot up the "birds." The untouched NorK boat sped to the coastline where it masked and worked its way back, at night, to the staging area/pen. Very Clancy-esque and far more intriguing than hull breach. And not any less likely at this point in time given the other scenarios speculated upon. The NorK/Iranian semi-submersibles/speedboats are a really difficult problem to counter in the enemy's backyard. A Cheonan-type event is exactly what those boats were designed to accomplish. 0.02
Then I hope the ROKN is ready to sortie, and the ROKAF has their ATOs worked up for the first several days of reprisals. Anything less is pathetic.
If my supposition is somewhat correct, the NorKs probably perceived their attack as a justified reprisal. Now Kim Light has been summoned to China for a haircutting appointment, i.e., a trim down of his ego, apparently. The real "winners" are the Iranians, as they have taken delivery of NorK semi-submersibles that can be used to strike tankers off the Iranian coast, near drilling rigs and transport lanes etc. The platform is now combat-proven under comparable conditions, excepting naval presence and maritime surveillance conditions, and the oil markets and exporters will pay heed. South Korea won't do a darn thing unless they know or come to know more than they are letting on now in terms of clear and convincing evidence that can be submitted to shape world opinion. If they carry out reprisals, they become the aggressor, as with Israel and its backyard problems. The South will do nothing unless the North piles on and the Chinese appear to be nipping that prospect in the bud.
� 1998 -