The Control Yuan yesterday issued corrective measures against the Ministry of National Defense for a 2016 missile blunder, and exhorted the Executive Yuan to review communication channels between the executive and national security branches.
The corrective measures came after the Control Yuan’s vote last month to impeach nine 131st Squadron navy officers in relation to a missile misfire in 2016, including squadron commander Rear Admiral Hu Chih-cheng (胡志政).
On July 1, 2016, second-class petty officer Kao Chia-chun (高嘉駿) accidentally launched a live Hsiung Feng III missile on Chinchiang-class corvette Jin Jiang in a pre-exercise warm-up. The missile ripped through a Kaohsiung-registered fishing vessel, killing the boat’s captain, Huang Wen-chung (黃文忠), and injuring three crew.
The crew of the Jin Jiang had not registered taking plugs from the armory, made wrong assumptions about when plugs should be connected to live missiles and left a junior officer unattended in the launch control room, the Control Yuan said.
A plug is a device that connects a wire used to send a launch order.
The crew showed disregard for regulations, as plugs should be kept in the armory, but often the captain or chief weapons officer were entrusted with plugs, the Control Yuan said, adding that on many occasions the removal of the plug from the armory was unregistered.
The 131st Squadron’s application to attend A-level exercises directly contravened Regulations on Holding A-level Exercises for Naval Ships, Reconnaissance and Missile Troops (海軍艦艇及監偵飛彈部隊甲操測考實施計畫), the Control Yuan said.
The application to attend the exercises was not reviewed by the 131st Squadron and further paperwork confusion saw the Naval Education, Training and Doctrine Development Command approve the ship’s exercise participation, despite Naval Fleet Command previously disqualifying the Jin Jiang, indicating severe negligence in review and assessment processes, the Control Yuan said.
The navy’s assessment of ships equipped with Hsiung Feng III missiles is incorrect, leading to false assumptions about a ship’s combat readiness, which is the goal of A-level exercises, the Control Yuan said.
Naval Fleet Command has not established a procedure for exercises involving Hsiung Feng III missiles or operational guidelines for Chinchiang-class patrol vessels, causing confusion among personnel participating in the exercises, the Control Yuan said.
The defense ministry’s failure to immediately inform the Executive Yuan of the event heightened the risk of cross-strait military conflict, the Control Yuan said, exhorting the Executive Yuan to review the channels of communications — and if need be, regulations — between it and the ministry.
Lack of discipline, blatant disregard of safety regulations, breaching application procedures for A-level exercises and connecting plugs to live missiles all led to missile — intended for the defense of the nation — to be used on Taiwanese, the Control Yuan said.
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