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Taiwanese Navy Accidentally Attacks Fishing Boat

Hsiung Feng III Missile. Mach 2 carrier killer.

Well…the headline for this article is a little misleading, but the result is probably the same. Earlier today, a Republic of China (Taiwan) missile corvette accidentally fired a Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missile, striking a fishing trawler.

The PRC Corvette that fired the missile.
The ROC Corvette that fired the missile.

Now for some interesting points:

  • The HF-III is a ramjet design that is reported to travel at least mach 2.
  • The corvette (#607) was conducting a mock missile drill at time of the launch.
  • The navy warship was actually docked in the harbor at the time.
  • The missile was headed towards Chinese territory.
  • The HF III traveled 35 miles
  • Hsiung Feng III is known publicly as a “carrier killer”.
  • The ASM passed straight through the low mass of the fishing trawler and did not detonate.
  • The damage to the trawler indicates the missile skimmed the surface as it was designed.

It is not known at the time of this writing if the corvette intentionally “targeted” the trawler for the mock attack or off the missile acquired it independently.

But think about the latter possibility for a minute. What if the ASM had targeted a foreign warship? Or possibly a much larger civilian ship such as a cruise ship or oil tanker? Scary thoughts.

Now, put your thinking cap on and ponder this. The diplomatic relations between the ROC (Taiwan) and the PRC (Chinese Communists) have been so poor, that these two countries don’t have formal head-of-state communications. So…if a major accident had occurred, would Taipei have enough time to even to do some ‘splain’ before a military response?

Radar track of missile flight path.
Radar track of missile flight path.

Considering how tense military to military relations have been region wide, this could have gotten out of hand very quickly.

I will close with this. Regardless of what our American readers may think of our all-powerful Navy, it should not be lost on you that even small ships like this corvette (#607) have the firepower to kill a carrier. All it takes is one missile to get through and even the largest of carriers could be knocked out of combat operations, if not completely sunk.

PRC Corvette. Notice it's the size of a billionaire's yacht.
Typical ROC Corvette. Notice it’s the size of a commercial fishing boat or respectable yacht.

The Navy geeks at NAVSEA answer to this problem is diversification. Figure all the money it takes the US government to field and operate an entire aircraft carrier battle group: ships, crews, pilots, planes. Now take that same money and spend it on dozens of LCS designs spread across an entire combat theater. Even if you went full nuclear, you couldn’t possibly kill them all before many of them have killed you first.


Below is a video showing a test firing of this missile system. Note this launch is from a much larger ship than the corvette described here. Imagine what it must have looked like when this baby went off, while the ship was docked in port!

The ghosts of USS Stark and HMS Sheffield still haunt those folks.


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