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March 25, 2017

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Navy ship bumps recreational fishing boat

By Joseph Yeh -- Anglers on a weekend fishing trip off the coast of Keelung caught more than they bargained for Saturday, when they were rammed by one of the Navy's 171-ton Kuang Hua VI-class missile ships.

The collision between the Navy ship and the recreational fishing boat, Bei Yang (北洋號), reportedly took place around 7 p.m., 9 nautical miles north of Bitou Cape (鼻頭角).

The fishing boat's bow was seriously damaged in the incident but no one was injured.

The Bei Yang's skipper said the Navy vessel "ran away" following the clash.

But an anonymous admiral rebutted the claims, telling the Apple Daily that the missile boat had escorted the civilian vessel back to a nearby harbor.

 The admiral insisted that the track charts of the two vessels could prove the allegations were false.

The Navy Fleet Command said on Sunday that it had completed an initial administrative investigation of the case, but did not comment on the hit-and-run allegations leveled by the fishing boat's skipper.

An independent investigator and the Coast Guard Administration were both probing the incident, the Navy said, adding that it would take full responsibility if it were proved that the military vessel was to blame for the collision.

The missile boat was conducting regular training exercises before the collision, the Navy said.

The Keelung Coast Guard said it had received a report from the Keelung Fisheries Radio Station about the collision at 7:27 p.m. Saturday.

Coast guardsmen later located the Bei Yang 6.7 nautical miles north of Keelung's Shenao area.

The Coast Guard later escorted the Bei Yang to the Bisha Fishing Harbor (碧砂漁港) in Keelung around 9 p.m.

The Coast Guard said it had contacted prosecutors and the Navy to collect evidence to establish the details of the collision.

The domestic Kuang Hua VI-class (光華六號) missile boats were put into service in 2010 to replace the aging Hai Ou (Seagull)-class missile boats (海鷗).

According to the Navy, the new boats, 34 meters long and 7.6 meters wide with a top speed of 61 kilometers per hour, are equipped with advanced radar and electronics systems and have stealth capability to help avoid detection by radar.

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