The Taiwanese military will suspend anti-China drills involving inflatable raiding craft following an incident July 3 in which two marine soldiers died after a craft overturned in waters off Taoziyuan beach.
The landing drill was part of preparations for the annual Han Kuang military exercises, which test the capabilities of Taiwan’s armed forces in repelling a potential invasion by China.
A supervisor overseeing the drill, lieutenant commander Yang was found dead in his room July 5 at Kaohsiung’s Zuoying Naval Base in an apparent suicide, hours after one of the soldiers injured in the drill had died in a hospital.
However, joint landing drills involving other maneuvers will be held as planned from July 13 to 17, Vice Admiral Sun Chang-teh the navy’s political warfare chief said, according to Taipei Times.
Two of the eight raiding craft overturned about 160m offshore at 8:48am, due to an unexpected wave surge, which overturned the craft throwing 14 marines into rough seas, Sun said. Eleven marines swam to shore, two others were rescued about 20 minutes later and the body of another was recovered later.
Referring to initial findings of an investigation into the incident, Vice Admiral Sun discounted factors such as human error and equipment malfunction as possible causes of the incident, saying that all participants in the drill hold certificates of qualification and four preparatory training sessions had been conducted in the vicinity.
All raiding craft and their engines had also been inspected and found to be functioning normally, he added. The soldiers who drowned were wearing inflatable life jackets.
Regarding the suspected suicide of one of the supervisors overseeing the drill, a lieutenant commander surnamed Yang, Sun said that the local prosecutors’ office was investigating the matter and would report its findings to Yang’s family.