The military had a couple of huge problems this week. First, a couple of marines and a marine MP hung a dog with a chain. I am not linking to this story in any way. I can't bear to think of that poor animal and the light punishment they apparently received. KMT Vice Chair Hau Long-bin complained that the morale of the military was hurt by having to issue an apology. The KMT has long had a tight relationship with the military...
The major mistake was the accidental destruction of a Taiwanese fishing boat by a missile fired from a navy ship in Kaohsiung. This story broke on Friday morning with texts and videos of the missile crossing Kaohsiung flitting around the social networks. To wit:
[Defense Minister] Feng traveled to Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, to offer the apology in person to the family of Huang Wen-chung (黃文忠) at their home. He promised to help them obtain state compensation and repair the damaged fishing boat, which has been towed back to Kaohsiung.It might have been humorous in its way, except that the Captain was killed and several of the crew injured. Luckily the warhead didn't detonate when it hit the ship. The military is trying to figure out why the missile didn't self destruct as it should have.
Accompanied by Navy Commander Adm. Huang Shu-kuang (黃曙光), Feng also vowed to improve military discipline.
The locally developed Hsiung Feng III missile was accidentally launched from one of the Navy's 500-ton Chinchiang-class corvettes at Zuoying Military Harbor in Kaohsiung during a drill at 8:15 a.m. on Friday and hit the fishing boat about two minutes later, according to the Navy.
The Defense Ministry confirmed that the missile ripped through the "Hsiang Li Sheng" (翔利昇) fishing boat, causing the death of the captain and injuring the three other crew members on the boat.
The ministry has issued an apology and has blamed the incident on human error; it said a petty officer on board the Chinchiang (PGG-610) did not follow standard operating procedure and launched the missile during a simulated attack.
Rumors: a knowledgeable person reported the rumor that the missile has a set course correction for a misfire, which it executed. During the turn, it hit the boat. The electronics were at a minimum during the launch so it is unlikely the PRC obtained any useful intelligence from it...
Pro-Green Liberty Times reported that KMT heavyweight Alex Tsai heard about the erroneous launch before the premier did. That would not be surprising as many people on social networks heard about it right away, since the errant missile flew over Kaohsiung where tens of thousands saw it.
Blogger Ben Goren sardonically predicted on Twitter that the media would hype it. Sure enough, several outlets reported that the missile flew in the "direction of China" or "toward China" or some other tension-hyping configuration (like AFP). Why they stopped there I have no idea -- after all, the missile was also launched in the direction of Russia's arctic bases, and after it executed its turn, it was briefly aimed at North Korea. Surely the media should have reported those important facts...
China, which is getting better and better at managing such things, immediately "demanded an explanation". The KMT attacked the government for not notifying China. The People's First Party (PFP), a KMT ally, complained:
The caucus said that top national security officials should establish a crisis hotline to Beijing to help avoid unnecessary military tension.Hmmm... struggling to remember here... something about communications being cut off, and Beijing...
OH YEAH: There's some truly fruitcake theories about the missile accident. Such accidents are normal (1982 Danish frigate incident, Royal Navy sub launches missile at dockyard, Zuni missile accidental launch causes fire on USS Forrestal, US Navy launches missile at St Croix). More may easily be located on the internet.
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