Three Officers Indicted for Deadly Missile Accident
Prosecutors in Taiwan announced Monday that they will be filing charges against Taiwanese Navy servicemembers Petty Officer Second Class Kao Chia-Chun, Petty Officer Chen Ming-Hsiu and Lieutenant Hsu Po-wei for their roles in the accidental launch of a supersonic missile in July, which resulted in the death of one fisherman.
The men were conducting a drill aboard a Taiwanese corvette in Zuoying Military Harbor on July 1. In a "series of discipline violations and mistakes," Petty Officer Chen reportedly issued commands to put four Hsiung Feng III missiles in combat mode, connecting them with fire control equipment. The recently-developed Hsiung Feng III has a cruising speed between Mach 2.5 and Mach 3.0 with a range of 16-80 nm, and it carries a 500-pound warhead with a shaped charge.
Chen then left Kao alone with the task of seting launch coordinates. After setting coordinates, Kao proceeded to order two missiles fired off. One was stopped by the vessel's exercise / simulation safeguards; the other missile launched, flew forty nm into the Strait of Formosa and struck a Taiwanese fishing boat.
The supersonic missile penetrated the boat’s superstructure but did not explode. The boat's master, Huang Wen-chung, was killed in the strike and three crewmembers were injured.
Petty Officer Second Class Kao will be charged with negligently causing Huang's death. Petty Officer Chen faces charges of negligence; Lieutenant Hsu, the corvette's weapons supervisor, will be charged with negligence in allowing the improper sequence of operations.
In addition to the prosecutor's criminal charges for the three men, the military disciplined the vessel's commanding officer, the commander of the vessel's fleet, the head of the Navy Command Headquarters and top Navy Commander Huang Shu-Kuang for the incident. The Navy has been asked to thoroughly review its operations.