Wed, May 10, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Navy monitoring missile site to thwart China spies

HSIUNG FENG III:The navy is surveilling the area where an anti-ship missile was accidentally fired to prevent Chinese vessels from finding the wreckage

By Lo Tien-pin and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The navy is still monitoring the waters off Kaohsiung to prevent Chinese spy vessels from picking up sensitive components from the Hsiung Feng III missile that was accidentally fired on July 1 last year, an officer said on Monday.

The anti-ship missile was accidentally fired by a Republic of China Navy Chinchiang-class corvette during a training exercise and struck a fishing trawler, killing one person and injuring three.

After intensive efforts to find the missile failed to produce any trace of the device, the navy concluded that it might have been totally destroyed after detonating when it hit the waters, said the officer, who declined to be named.

Although disintegration and immersion in salt water would likely make any debris worthless for intelligence purposes, the navy has been monitoring the area to prevent possible recovery of pieces by Chinese vessels and will continue to do so, the officer said.

The performance and design of the Hsiung Feng III are classified and the navy is determined to minimize any risk lest such information be compromised, the officer said.

To prevent the Chinese from finding the wreckage, the navy fully intends to surveil the impact zone on a long-term basis and the operation patterns of all ships in the area are scrutinized for any abnormality, the officer said.

On the day of the mishap, the navy sent out six ships and a Sikorsky S-70C helicopter to look for the missile and to secure the air-sea perimeter, the officer said.

The navy called on technicians from the National Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology and calculated the flight path of the missile, the officer said.

The search area was broadened by taking tide and current data into consideration.

The salvage operation — which did not find any parts from the missile — took 62 days, covered 118 square nautical miles (405km2) of water and involved 10 missions by mine hunters, five missions by oceanic survey ship Takuan and 14 missions by a landing craft utility vessel, the officer said.

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