Wed, Sep 16, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Navy searches for sub’s lost captain

MAN OVERBOARD Chen Chi-tsung was washed off his submarine by giant waves on Monday night as the vessel was taking part in a drill off the Zuoying naval base

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

Navy seamen join the search yesterday for Captain Chen Chi-tsung, who was washed off the deck of his submarine during an exercise off the coast of Kaohsiung County on Monday night. Boats and helicopters are also being used in the search for Chen.

PHOTO: CNA

The navy is searching for a submarine captain who was swept overboard on Monday night off the coast of Kaohsiung, the Navy Fleet Command said yesterday.

Chen Chi-tsung (陳紀宗), captain of the submarine Hai Lung, was knocked off his vessel by big waves during a drill. Rescue vessels and helicopters were dispatched to search for Chen in the waters outside the Zuoying (左營) naval base as soon as the navy command was alerted.

Navy Fleet Command chief Wen Chen-kuo (聞振國) said the Navy has launched 60 sorties, deploying nearly 1,000 personnel and 60 aircraft and marine vessels in the search.

“The search has not stopped,” Wen said, reiterating the military’s determination to find the captain within the “golden 72 hours” the period in which the chances of survival are highest after such an accident.

Chen’s deputy Sun Jung-lu (孫榮祿) said his captain fell overboard and was swallowed by a 14m-high wave before he could reach the life buoy that was thrown to him.

It took the submarine approximately eight minutes to carry out a “Williamson turn” for an attempt to save Chen but he had already disappeared at a site about 40m away from the vessel after another wave hit him, Sun said.

A “Williamson turn” refers to the way a ship makes an immediate turn to approach a man overboard. Sun said a standard “Williamson turn” takes four minutes and 30 seconds but it took eight minutes for the Hai Lung to carry out the turn because of strong waves.

Navy Command Headquarters said yesterday that security measures for sailors aboard submarines would be amended.

“We will ask sailors to hook up and put on their lifevests whenever they are working on the deck or onboard the sail-hull,” said Chiang Lung-an (姜龍安), the headquarters chief of staff.

Chiang said that a submarine could be a lot shakier than other vessels when it is on the surface. The Navy follows the US Navy drill for diesel submarines, which regulates that sailors do not wear lifevests or hook up to the body of the sub when they are working on the sail-hull.

“Obviously, this standard operation procedure needs to be amended,” Chiang said.

Chen, 47, has been in the navy since 1988.

The Hai Lung, a 66.92m submarine modeled on the Netherlands’ Zwaardvis-class submarine, was commissioned in the late 1980s.

It is 8.4m wide and is equipped with six 21-inch torpedo launchers and advanced navigation and combat systems.

The sub can carry a crew of 11 officers and 66 servicemen.

The Hai Lung and another Zwaardvis-class sub, the Hai Hu, as well as two other subs, form the backbone of the navy’s underwater defense force and are responsible for anti-submarine and coastal surveillance missions.

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