Fishing Vessel’s Crashing into Navy Ships in Taiwan – An Accident or Is It? Naval Vessels on Heightened Alert

Two separate incidents of civilian ships colliding with the navy’s Keelung-class destroyers an hour apart yesterday morning is under investigation, navy officials said, adding that there were no casualties.

At 7:35am yesterday, the Keelung (DDG-1801) ran into a fishing boat, the “Chin Fu En” (金福恩), that was entering Suao harbor, denting the stern of the fishing boat, the navy said.

The navy estimated that the accident might have cost the owner of the “Chin Fu En” more than NT$100,000 in losses.

Another warship, the “Tsoying” (DDG-1803), was berthed at the No. 10 pier of Kaohsiung’s Cijin Harbor (旗津) when the Panama-registered tanker “Everrich 3,” which was making a turn, clipped its stern at about 8:30am, the navy said.

The navy said it has asked the Maritime Port Bureau’s Kaohsiung branch to investigate the cause of the accident and would demand compensation from “Everrich 3.”

All naval vessels have been advised to be on heightened alert and risk awareness, it added.

It was the first time that two accidents involving warships occurred on the same day and follows a series of naval incidents this year, including a missile patrol boat colliding with a fishing boat off the coast of New Taipei City’s Rueifang District (瑞芳) in March and a Ching Chiang-class patrol boat scratching the embankment at the Port of Taipei in June.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書) said at a legislative session that the Ministry of National Defense must report on the incident.

Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) said the incident at Suao was caused by fishing boats wanting to “race” naval vessels out of harbor.

Feng attributed it to the local custom of “racing the bow” (搶船頭), as Taiwanese fishermen believe that they would have a bountiful catch if they left the harbor before a larger ship, with military ships presenting an even greater bonus.

Taiwan Class Destroyer

The ministry has negotiated with fishermen’s associations over the practice in order to reduce such accidents, he said.

However, according to Suao port authorities, the “Chin Fu En” left the port on Monday evening and was returning to the port yesterday morning when it ran into the naval vessel.

Feng said the ministry would make a formal report on the recent incidents and propose improvement measures as Huang asked.