Taiwanese Navy Missile Misfire Hits Fishing Boat

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in an address after the accident (courtesy social media)

By MarEx 2016-07-05 21:05:57

On Friday, a Taiwanese corvette accidentally launched a supersonic Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missile during a training drill, striking a Taiwanese fishing vessel in the Taiwan Strait. 

The fishing vessel's captain, Huang Wen-chung, was killed in the strike; three crewmembers were injured. Senior navy staff apologized for the casualties. 

The missile penetrated the vessel’s superstructure but did not detonate.

The navy corvette was involved in a dockside exercise at Zuoying Military Harbor at the time of the accident; Taiwan’s Vice Admiral Mei Chia-shu said that the launch was caused by human error. A legislative inquest concluded that it was "caused by a series of discipline violations and mistakes . . . it wasn't just one individual operating mistake." A navy official told a news conference on Friday that a sergeant had not followed proper procedures and had conducted the test on his own without supervision. The sergeant and his superior officers are to be disciplined, and the local prosecutors have called four servicemembers in for questioning. 

The launch came on the same day as the ninety-fifth anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. In a speech marking the occasion, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that "we firmly oppose the Taiwan independence separatist forces . . . the more than 1.3 billion Chinese people and the whole country will not tolerate secessionist activities by any person at any time and in any form." Cross-strait relations have been strained in recent weeks following the election of the independence-oriented Taiwanese president, Tsai Ing-wen, who has refused to acknowledge a two-decade old treaty on Taiwan's status. 

In a commencement speech on Monday, President Tsai called for changes. "The military needs drastic reform. I will not evade the issue and will not evade responsibility," she said.