Updated April. 21, 2014 01:21
As Tongyeong, the state-of-the-art salvage and rescue ship of Korean Navy, fails to be mobilized in the rescue duty for the sunken ferry Sewol, controversies are rising over the use of the costly ship.
Tongyeong, which was launched at Okpo Shipyard in Geoje by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in September 2012, is designed to salvage and rescue a ship in distress or aground. A total of 160 billion won (about 154 million U.S. dollars) was invested in the development of this ship equipped with ROV (remotely-operated vehicle) and advanced sonar. The ship can search the sea at the depth of 3,000 meter. In addition, she has a supportive system to operate at 90-meter water depth as well as decompression equipment accommodating up to eight people and a helicopter landing zone. However, the ship armed with all these cutting-edge technologies cannot be used in rescuing passengers of Sewol.
The ship was originally scheduled to be delivered to the Navy last October after finishing trial tests. However, since the performance of the sonar and ROV did not meet the demands of the Navy along with some other reasons, the ships deployment on site has been postponed three times. Tongyeong is still in the shipyard to take trial tests and supplementary works.
The Navy has decided not to deploy Tongyeong in the rescue efforts for Sewol on the ground that it may bring danger to equipment functioning and sailing. As the performance of core equipment has not been verified for over 19 months, some criticize the military authorities should be held responsible for the delay. Negative postings, such as If this is what they can do, there is no reason to build such an expensive ship with taxpayers money and Why on earth cant the ship be used even one year after its launch?, are piling up online. On the other hand, postings like Deploying the ship by force should be refrained from because at least two-year commissioning after launch is required to operate a ship on site, also stood out.