Taiwan navy officers jailed over deadly missile accident

A fisherman was killed and three others were injured off Penghu last year when the ‘aircraft carrier killer’ was mistakenly fired

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 September, 2017, 2:48pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 September, 2017, 7:32pm

Three naval officers in Taiwan were handed jail terms ranging from 14 months to two years on Saturday over the accidental launch of a missile that killed a fisherman and injured three others in waters off Penghu county last year, the Central News Agency reported.

The officers were found guilty of negligence causing death while on duty, the Kaohsiung District Court said in its verdict.

Petty officer Kao Chia-chun, who fired the Hsiungfeng 3 missile – dubbed an “aircraft carrier killer” – on July 1 last year, was sentenced to 18 months in jail, the court ruled.

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Kao’s supervisor, Chen Ming-hsiu, and Lieutenant Hsu Po-wei, who was in charge of supervising the weapons on the naval vessel, were sentenced to two years and 14 months, respectively, the report said.

The locally developed missile was launched by mistake from a 500-tonne Jin Jiang-class corvette docked at a naval base in Kaohsiung during what was supposed to be a simulated test.

The missile travelled northwest and ripped through the Hsiang Li Sheng fishing boat 40 nautical miles away in waters near Penghu, killing its captain Huang Wen-chung.

Huang’s son and two migrant workers on board, one from Vietnam and the other from the Philippines, suffered minor injuries in the accident.

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Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen slammed the incident as “absolutely inexcusable”, saying it showed an “utter contempt of discipline and a complete lack of competence” within the military.

Critics said the incident exposed a serious lapse in management within the navy, while local media questioned how a petty officer could single-handedly launch the missile, which requires three procedures for clearance.