The Ministry of National Defense yesterday revoked the Republic of China Navy’s decision to punish several officers responsible for warships veering off course during a military drill last month.
“We have returned the report on the incident to the navy,” ministry spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) told a press conference.
The navy will relaunch investigative proceedings based on the “principle of proportionality,” Lo said, following media reports that Rear Admiral Chang Feng-chiang (張鳳強), who was relieved of his command of the Yilan-based 168th Fleet after the incident, received too harsh a punishment.
“We believe that the navy needs to review its management process,” Lo said, suggesting that it should mete out a more appropriate penalty.
On July 25 and July 26, Chang’s fleet sailed out of the area planned for the military exercise and moved toward the Japanese island of Yonaguni, about 100km east of Taiwan, raising alarm in Japan.
Chang received a major demerit and was removed from his post based on the findings of an investigative report done by an ad-hoc navy task force. Other officers were also given demerits for failing to discover the blunder in time.
However, the former fleet commander said that he sent a cable to his superiors about his plan to sail off the designated course, but received no reply, which he took as an approval of his intentions.
“The core of the problem lies in drill discipline,” Lo said, explaining that more than one person or unit is responsible for the mishap.