Chief of Naval Operations resigns over corruption

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Chief of Naval Operations resigns over corruption

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Jung Ho-sub

The Ministry of National Defense on Monday accepted the resignation of Admiral Hwang Ki-chul, the chief of Naval Operations, who stepped down to take responsibility for a corruption scandal involving the problematic Tongyeong salvage ship.

Vice Adm. Jung Ho-sub, the 57-year-old vice chief of naval operations, was named by the ministry the same day to replace Hwang.

In December, the Board of Audit and Inspection advised the Defense Ministry to dismiss Hwang to take responsibility for the acquisition of faulty parts for the Tongyeong.

Hwang, who took the post in September 2013, tendered his resignation to Defense Minister Han Min-koo on Dec. 29 to take moral responsibility, a defense official said.

The 3,500-ton Tongyeong was completed in 2012 at a cost of 159 billion won ($143 million), but has been embroiled in controversy since due to faulty parts impairing its deployment, leading to backlash against the Defense Ministry.

Hwang had been in charge of selecting the shoddy sonar system for the vessel in 2009, when he worked as the chief of the Naval Ships Program Department under the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

The Board of Audit and Inspection conducted an investigation between May and July after allegations surfaced regarding irregularities by military officials in the process of acquiring parts for the Navy and determined Hwang was negligent in the review process when signing the contracts to acquire the parts.

The Navy initially refused to receive the completed rescue ship in 2012 because it was missing crucial parts. The builder, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, however, claimed DAPA had provided substandard hull-mounted sonar systems and remotely operated underwater vehicles.

A prosecutorial probe later determined that military officials received bribes for the faulty parts.

Jung is a maritime operations specialist and former fleet commander and was to be appointed as the new naval operations chief by President Park Geun-hye.


BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]




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