Fri, Oct 24, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Navy officers get slap on the wrist

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Twenty-two naval officers, including the commander of the Navy, have been disciplined over the grounding of a Kuang Hua No. 6 missile speedboat late last month, Minister of National Defense Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) said on Wednesday.

Answering questions at a meeting of the legislature’s Diplomacy and National Defense Committee, Chen said that in a report on the accident, the Ministry of National Defense concluded that human error was the direct cause of the boat’s grounding off the coast of Chiayi County while it was taking part in the Han Kuang No. 24 military exercises.

RESPONSIBILITY

The ministry penalized 22 naval officers it found to be responsible for the accident, Chen said.

The fast-attack missile boat ran aground on Sept. 25 in bad weather. The 14 crewmen on board were rescued shortly after the mishap.

In the following days, rescue workers from the Navy removed the four Hsiung Feng anti-ship missiles, the navigation system and other important equipment from on board the vessel.

On Oct. 10, a Navy salvage team used two giant cranes to pull the 150-tonne boat out of shallow water and towed it to Chiayi County’s Budai Harbor (布袋) for preliminary repairs before moving it to Kaohsiung Harbor for an overhaul.

UNDER THE SURFACE

Although the hull of the boat appeared to be in satisfactory condition, Navy frogmen who inspected the vessel below water said they had discovered five holes in the bottom.

The missile boat is a prototype designed by the Navy under its Kuang Hua No. 6 Missile Speedboat Plan to phase out 50-tonne Seagull-class missile boats. It is 34m long and 7.6m wide, with a top speed of 63kph.

Under the Kuang Hua No. 6 plan, 30 boats will be built at a cost of about NT$400 million (US$12.29 million) each.

The state-run Kaohsiung-based CSBC Corp Taiwan — the nation’s largest shipbuilder — began building the boats last November.

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