Serial Number on Torpedo Part Points Compellingly to N.Korea

      May 21, 2010 11:17

      Investigators on Thursday presented evidence pointing to North Korean involvement in the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan on March 26, including the font style of the serial number 1 handwritten on the rear part of the salvaged propulsion shaft of a torpedo.

      It was compared with a North Korean training torpedo retrieved in 2003, which bears the serial number 4 in Korean.

      It is clear that the torpedo was made by the North, given that only two countries, South and North Korea, use Hangeul for inscriptions on weapons such as torpedoes, and the fragment did not come from the South, a spokesman for the investigators explained.

      "No. 1" is handwritten on the rear part of the North Korean torpedo's propulsion shaft. /Yonhap

      The salvaged propulsion shaft bears "No. 1" handwritten in blue -- not engraved or printed in block letters. It was written with an oil-based marker since it was not erased by the seawater, an officer said. The military is conducting precision analysis to find out if the ink is the same as on the training torpedo.

      Air Force Lt. Gen. Hwang Won-dong, the chief of the intelligence analysis team, said, "It seems they wrote the number so that they could easily assemble, repair and maintain torpedoes."

      It is unclear why the North fired the torpedo without erasing a number that could be traced, but a member of the investigation team said, "The serial number seems to have been handwritten by an engineer in the process of making the torpedo." Finished torpedoes are wrapped in aluminum casing, so the serial number on the inside component was invisible until the torpedo exploded, escaping the notice of the North Korean military.

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