Thu, Feb 03, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Navy suicide in US under investigation

TRAGEDY The family of a Taiwanese who killed himself is asking for an investigation, although he faxed them a suicide note about being over-worked

CNA , Kaohsiung

The ashes of a non-commissioned navy officer who committed suicide in the US last week were brought back to Taiwan Tuesday.

Naval authorities said the Navy General Headquarters (NGH) has assigned staff to assist Chief Petty Officer Wu Chin-chung's (吳進忠) family in handling their affairs. Wu's ashes have been placed in a makeshift memorial hall at a military hospital near the Tsoying naval base in southern Taiwan.

The NGH has also formed a special task force to investigate the possible cause of Wu's suicide, a Naval Fleet Command official said.

"We'll get to the bottom of the incident and find out who should be held responsible for it," the official said.

Wu was a member of the Republic of China Navy staff working at a US shipyard in South Carolina in preparation for taking delivery of four Kidd-class destroyers that Taiwan purchased from the US in 2001. The four destroyers were originally built for the Shah of Iran in 1979, but were later mothballed when Iran canceled the deal. The four warships are being refurbished and are undergoing maintenance in the US before being delivered to Taiwan.

Wu was found by his colleagues to have strangled himself aboard one of the destroyers Jan. 26, according to naval sources. Wu's colleagues immediately performed emergency first aid and informed their superiors of the incident.

After receiving the information from the US naval base, the Naval Fleet Command immediately notified Wu's family in Taiwan of the tragedy and sent staff members to provide assistance.

In the past, Taiwan has sent special naval teams to the US to receive training and take delivery of US-built warships. As the work is very complicated and stressful, military sources said, some incidents involving naval staff have been reported in the past.

Wu's grandmother was heartbroken when she saw her grandson's ashes at Kaohsiung International Airport. Wu's uncle said Wu had faxed a suicide note to his parents, complaining about his extremely heavy workload, long working hours and his superiors' frequent fault-finding.

The uncle said the naval authorities should find out the cause of his suicide.

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