Wed, Oct 15, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Navy relieved as torpedo hits target

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED After suffering setbacks in the Hankuang No. 19 exercise last month, the navy redeemed itself after the second of two torpedoes fired yesterday hit its intended target

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A torpedo hits a warship during a drill by the navy off the coast of Pingtung yesterday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

The navy regained its self-confidence yesterday after a successful torpedo test.

The success came after the navy failed to hit a target in the Sept. 4 Hankuang No. 19 exercise.

The first of two torpedoes fired yesterday developed similar problems as the one in the Hankuang, or Han Glory, exercise and failed to hit its target.

But a second try yesterday worked, marking the first success the navy has had in two decades in firing a live torpedo from a submarine.

The torpedo tests were held at a beach in Chialutang, Pingtung County.

The result cheered up navy commander-in-chief Admiral Miao Yung-ching (苗永慶), who looked downcast after the first torpedo test of the day ended in failure.

"It has helped us regain self-confidence," Miao said in a brief speech after the torpedo tests. "It will also make the public have confidence in us again."

"Despite the success, we will seek to find out what caused the other tests to fail to ensure that no mistakes of the same kind are made again," Miao said.

Yesterday's tests were intended to make up for the navy's failures in the Hankuang exercise, which included a live submarine-launched torpedo and a land-based Chaparral air defense missile. The Chaparral is used by the marine corps.

It was President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) idea that the navy and other armed services launch more tests of weapons systems that developed problems in the Hankuang exercise until they were able to hit the target without fault.

Torpedoes were not the only weapons put to the test in yesterday's live-fire drills.

The Mica air-to-air missile and the Chaparral missile were also tested. Both hit their targets.

The Mica was not launched during the Hankuang exercise because its intended target was mistakenly shot down by a Standard SM-1 missile fired from a Chengkung-class frigate.

The Chaparral was off the mark in the Hankuang exercise.

After the Mica and Chaparral passed the tests, the navy's heavyweight SUT torpedo became the center of attention. The navy had been preparing for the SUT test for several weeks. The navy had fired another live torpedo in a rehearsal on Oct. 8. The test was successful, but could not be officially counted.

The training drills yesterday were supposed to have been completed by noon, but were extended after the first SUT torpedo went out of control.

Initial probes by the navy showed that the wire guiding the torpedo broke during the homing process, a situation similar to what happened in the Hankuang exercise.

The navy said the torpedo sank to the bottom of the sea about 53 minutes after it lost contact with the submarine.

The sea where the torpedo test was held was up to 1,571m deep, the navy said.

"After its batteries run out, the torpedo will sink to the seabed," it said.

A second torpedo test took place at 2:20pm. Six minutes later, the torpedo hit a decommissioned Yang-class destroyer, about 60 nautical miles off the coast.

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