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MND denies conspiracy theories regarding Navy missile fiasco

ROC Central News Agency

2016/07/02 22:14:58

Taipei, July 2 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense (MND) issued a detailed question-and-answer press release Saturday to debunk a string of conspiracy theories surrounding the Navy's misfiring of a missile a day earlier causing one civilian death and three injuries.

The release, posting 10 questions and 10 responses, began by asking how could a sergeant be allowed to "do it alone" without having been given consent from his superiors, triggering speculations?

The MND said the Navy ship commander, senior arms officer and missile launch control sergeant had all failed to follow standard operation procedure (SOP) before the operating sergeant chose the wrong simulation mode, committing a series of "discipline violating" acts and making a string of mistakes that finally resulted in the historic fiasco.

Learning a tough lesson from the mishap, the MND will, from next week on, toughen up its training programs for all military units, particularly in regard to SOP training, to prevent any similar occurrences in the future, said the release.

Was it appropriate for the armed forces to conduct a live-fire training program while President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was on a foreign visit? The MND said Friday's Navy corvette missile firing was not a "military drill" but a "test of single-ship training results."

Why did the sailors on board the corvette not initiate the "self- destruct" button before the Hsiung Feng III missile hit a target?

The release said a self-destruct mechanism would be installed only in missiles during a formal military exercise. The sailors were not participating in such an exercise Friday; they were instead just conducting a "test of training results," said the MND.

Was it true that sergeant Kao Chia-chun (高嘉駿) gave a hurray after he finished firing the missile?

"No, our investigation found that to be untrue," said the release.

Another rumor has it that Kao did not care about what he had just done and posted some remarks and played games on his FB page soon afterward, is there evidence to support this?

The MND said, Kao's cell phone was immediately impounded and probed, with no evidence found to support the allegations. "The rumor is false," it added.

Why did the Navy not send any ships or aircraft to the scene after the incident, while only coast guard ships were seen there?

The MND said the Navy did send two corvettes, four speed boats and two helicopters to search for the fallen missile and immediately contacted the Coast Guard Administration for assistance in the search.

The MND also dismissed as untrue reports that an ammunition ship was about to enter the harbor when the Hsiung Feng III missile was fired by mistake.

On the question of why the fishing boat did not explode after being struck by the missile, the MND explained that the missile is designed to attack military vessels, and because the structure of fishing boats tend to be light and weak, thus the impact of the strike was not strong enough to detonate the warhead.

The MND also responded to an allegation by Lu Li-shih (呂禮詩), a former Chinchiang-class corvette captain, that the accident occurred because control procedures were not properly imposed on the missile's launch key.

According to the ministry, the Hsiung Feng III missile does not have a launch key, and therefore no control procedures are needed.

The ministry said it deeply regretted Lu's "mistaken" and "misleading" comments about the case.

(By Lu Hsin-hui, S.C. Chang and Stephanie Low)
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