Watchdog Sees No Merit in 'Flock of Birds' Story

      June 11, 2010 12:31

      The Board of Audit and Inspection on Thursday said there is no very good reason to believe that the Sokcho, the nearest warship to the scene of the sinking of the ill-fated corvette Cheonan, fired at a flock of birds rather than a submarine on the day the Cheonan sank in the West Sea.

      The military said the Sokcho had initially thought its target was a North Korean submarine fleeing after attacking the Cheonan and fired 135 shots with 76-mm cannon. However, the military claimed close investigation of the radar tracking device revealed that the shape sailors saw was a flock of birds.

      The BAI's assessment is apparently based on testimony of sailors that the Second Naval Command ordered them to change their stories. The Sokcho initially reported to the Second Naval Command that sailors saw what appeared to be a new type of North Korean submarine, but the command ordered officers to change their testimony to a flock of birds in a briefing to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on March 27.

      The BAI pointed out that military regulations ban speculation, addition or omission in initial reports to higher authorities. "Even during the audit, officers on the Sokcho did not change their opinion that it was a submarine and insisted that the radar tracking device did not show the image that could seen as a flock of birds," a BAI official said. "It is hard to understand how the change was made in reporting procedure."

      He added the board believes the command acted out of fear of punishment over failing to take proper action in the initial stages after the sinking.

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