Sun, May 14, 2017 - Page 1 News List

New navy frigates welcomed to port

NUMBERS GAME:The US-built vessels were given the numbers 1112 and 1115 to avoid combinations that add up to four, which some people consider unlucky

By Lo Tien-pin and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer and CNA

Crew members’ relatives greet the Perry-class frigate Feng Chia No. 1115 in Kaohsiung yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Two Perry-class guided-missile frigates purchased from the US arrived in Kaohsiung yesterday, an acquisition that the Republic of China (ROC) Navy said will increase its anti-submarine capability.

Flying ROC national flags, the vessels, crewed by Taiwanese, sailed into Zuoying Military Harbor in Kaohsiung at about 9:30am, where a welcoming ceremony was held by the military.

A commissioning ceremony is slated for July next year, according to military sources.

The ships — which were cheaper than Taiwanese-made Cheng Kung-class frigates, the design of which is based on Perry-class frigates — were built in the 1980s.

The navy renamed them Ming Chuan No. 1112 and Feng Chia No. 1115.

They are to join the navy’s 146th fleet based on the outlying island of Penghu, from where they are to patrol the Taiwan Strait, the sources said.

Perry-class frigates have high mobility and are equipped with the SQQ-89 undersea warfare combat system and the SQR-19 sonar system, both of which the military said would beef up its anti-submarine capabilities.

Then-US president Barack Obama signed a bill into law in December 2014 that authorized the sale of four Perry-class frigates to Taiwan.

Taipei budgeted about NT$5.5 billion (US$182 million at today’s exchange rate) in 2014 to purchase two of the ships, which were formerly named the USS Taylor (EFG-50) and the USS Gary (EFG-51) of the US Navy.

Admiral Huang Shu-kuang (黃曙光), commander of the ROC Navy, and family members of the crew were at the port to welcome the ships as they docked.

An official who declined to be named said the navy had been working with its US counterpart since May last year to bring the ships to Taiwan, adding that the crew underwent 10 months of tests and training with the US military.

The frigates are to be fitted with new equipment, while officers will be trained with the new ships before they are added into the naval force, the official said.

“Maintaining security and unimpeded passage in the waters around Taiwan is the navy’s greatest responsibility. We hope we will continue to have support in making arms purchases to ensure we can undertake this responsibility,” the sources said.

The numbering of the frigates — 1112 and 1115 — follows a convention in which the last two numbers of a ship’s name cannot add up to four, nor can the last digit be a four, the official said.

Case of all the digits adding up to four are also not used.

Four in Chinese has a similar pronunciation to the Chinese word for “die” (si, 死).

“The idea is that we hope officers will not be distracted by what might be perceived as an ominous ship name,” the official said, adding that as the previous Cheng Kung-class vessel to be added to the fleet was No. 1110, and 1111 adds up to four, the new ships were numbered starting from 1112.

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