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Sub Capt's body found.... Taiwan Navy reviewing SOP

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Sub Capt's body found.... Taiwan Navy reviewing SOP

Postby U-5075 » Sun Sep 20, 2009 10:16 am ... ntID=86685

Official: Taiwan submarine captain's body found


Taiwan's navy says it has recovered the body of a submarine captain who fell into the ocean during training. The captain, Chen Chi-tsung, fell overboard after huge waves struck the submarine in bad weather on Monday.

The Navy found Chen's body in the ocean early on Wednesday morning off the southern military port of Zuoying. Officials said that Chen was not breaking protocol by failing to wear a life vest at the time of the incident. But they said they will conduct a thorough investigation in order to prevent a similar tragedy in the future. ... iewing.htm

Navy reviewing SOP after captain drowning

Thursday, September 17, 2009
By Alan Fong, The China Post

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan -- The Navy will offer the family of Chen Chi-tsung, a submarine captain found drowned yesterday after two days of extensive searching, compensation in the "best possible" terms for their loss, the Commander of Navy said.
The Navy will also conduct a comprehensive review on the role of the military in the accident, Admiral Kao Kuang-chi said.

"Military authorities deeply regret the captain's tragic death," Kao added.

Vice Admiral Sun Yi-cheng, director of the Political Warfare Department at the Navy Command Headquarters, said that the Navy had amended its standard operation procedure (SOP) to make life jackets or safety hooks mandatory for all personnel working on the decks of warships or on the raised observation towers of submarines from now on.

The comments by the senior officials were made at a memorial service that saw Chen's body moved to a makeshift funeral hall in the morgue of a military hospital in Zuoying, Kaohsiung, at 10 a.m. yesterday, less than three hours after the body was found by a Navy vessel in one of the biggest search and rescue missions in recent times.

Over a 1,000 Navy personnel, dozens of vessels and chopper sorties were deployed in the two-day search for Chen, who was swept off the submarine Hai Lung's sail, the tower-like structure of the vessel, during a training exercise Monday. Chen was not wearing a life jacket or attached to a safety hook at the time.

Chen's body was found at 7:42 a.m. in waters 3.1 nautical miles southwest of the naval port in Zuoying. At 8:02 a.m., a rescue vessel reclaimed the body and verified it as the deceased submarine skipper.

Preliminary examinations show that "Chen drowned after slipping into the sea, and that he had no external wounds on his body," Huang Shin-jang, spokesman of the Prosecutors' Office of South District Military Court, said.

Local media questioned the maneuver of the submarine after the captain slipped overboard. The Chinese newspaper, the United Evening News, quoting "coast guard personnel and shipping experts," questioned the decision of Commander Sun Jung-lu, the executive officer of the submarine, to stop the engines and put the rudder over full, which would lead the vessel to drift off-course, making it more difficult to return to the recovery point.The newspaper suggested that Sun should have employed the "universal method" of a Williamson turn, "which is required even in small boat license examinations." The Williamson turn instructs the skipper to keep the engine running while putting the rudder over full. The newspaper suggested that such a maneuver can help a vessel maintain course.

In response to the newspaper's question, Lu Chung-hua, spokesperson of the Navy Fleet Command, told The China Post that Sun had maneuvered the vessel "according to the Navy's SOP."

Sun's maneuver, The China Post has learned, was in accordance with the Anderson turn, which is regarded as the most common man-overboard rescue maneuver as it enables a ship to return to the recovery point in the shortest time. The Williamson turn is mostly used, on the other hand, at night or when the visibility is low.

Nevertheless, the actual conditions at the time, such as the prevailing wind and the sea current direction and speed, dictate the most appropriate method of rescue. For example, Sun's decision to stop the engines to prevent the vessel's propellers from hitting Chen, a decision some experts quoted by the newspaper regarded as "strange," could be necessary if Chen was upwind of the vessel or if the sea current was carrying him toward the vessel.

Erich Shih, chief convener of the Defence International magazine, said a similar tragedy happened in the U.S. Navy eight or nine years ago, in which a naval captain fell overboard during an exercise.

The U.S. Navy has since demanded its personnel working on decks or on conning towers wear a life vest and safety line hooked to the hull of the vessel.

"It is regrettable that our navy had failed to take that bitter lesson as its own," Shih said.
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