Saturday, July 02, 2016

The Military has a bad week...


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.

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.
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.

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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Anonymous said...

Equipment failure can determent life or death during battle. My father fought in the last major sea battle with China near Wuqiu on November 13, 1965. He was on-board Yongtai.

Equipment failure and personnel mistake were key factors on how Wuqiu sea battle get started. My father was the navigator on-board Yongtai so he kept a close watch on radar. He was the first one that noticed suspicious dots on the radar screen. He reported it as possible Chinese military vessels to his CO. His CO thought they were fishing vessels. My father started loudly argue with him and told the CO that fishing vessels usually had lights on but those ships were dark. The captain of Yongtai were in adjacent room and heard the argument. After the captain heard what my father said, he immediately ordered battle station.

Unfortunately the radio communication equipment was down on Yongtai. There are limited way that they could inform YangChang which was following Yongtai. The communication officer went ahead and use the signal lamp. Those Chinese ships were waiting to ambush them. As Yongtai started to signal YangChang, the Chinese immediately started to shoot. Their first shot barely miss the bridge of Yongtai.

My father told me that they fought until they ran out of ammo and had to turn back to island of Wuqiu so the big guns on the island can provide cover fire.

KMT did not have the ships and strategy to counter the fast attack gun boats method of China so they finally gave up the dream of return to China.

We should always stay vigilant against threat from China. Those guy will never fight fair to maximize their advantage.

Anonymous said...

I really, really hate how this is attributed to human error. Seriously? So the remedy is to what? Try harder? Read directions a second time? This is the military we're talking about. If the execution doesn't work, then figure out how to reliably execute and be resilient to errors. I hope if Taiwan is at war, we're not relying on sailors drinking enough coffee and eating enough betel nut so that they are at their tip top alertness and if not otherwise all is lost.

At the end of the day, it's easier for the system to blame a single person, than for the system to own up and say we need to fix something and get better. *shakes head*

Wind said...

Maybe the kids of one of the soldiers were touring the ship (off-the-record, of course) and accidentally pushed a button. Kids do that kind of stuff.