Mon, Jul 17, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Zuoying naval base to get upgrade

By Lo Tien-pin and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Battleships are moored at the Zuoying naval base in Kaohsiung’s Zuoying District in an undated photo.

Photo: Chang Chung-i, Taipei Times

The government plans to upgrade Kaohsiung’s Zuoying (左營) naval base to enable the servicing of large warships and to augment its operational capabilities, a Ministry of National Defense official said yesterday.

The strategically important base needs to enhance its capability to service more and bigger ships, including 10,000-tonne warships that are to be built as part of the nation’s shipbuilding program, and those of allied navies, the official said.

The expansion, named the Weihai Project (威海), has a budget of NT$34.5 billion (US$1.13 billion) under the defense allowance of the government’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, the official said.

The expanded base is to have a second pier and a second harbor entrance-exit point on its north side, with requisite berths and shore-side facilities, the official said.

Due to its reliance on a single entrance-exit point, the Zuoying naval base is considered vulnerable to blockade and attack.

In a war, the navy would have to dock its warships for supply and maintenance one at a time to avoid having too many vessels remaining stationary and vulnerable, the official said.

Adding another exit-entrance point and expanding base facilities would enhance fleet survivability and operational efficiency by shortening the time required to assemble naval forces for combat, the official said.

The estimated completion date for the second pier and harbor entrance-exit point is 2025, the official said.

Plans for maintenance and administration facilities and barracks are being drawn up by private consultants, with plans expected to be complete by the end of the year, the official said.

The navy has submitted the expansion’s basic layout to the Executive Yuan’s Public Construction Commission, and environmental impact studies have been filed to the Environmental Protection Administration, the official said.

As development projects for coastal areas must be authorized by the Ministry of the Interior, the permit request would be sent to its Construction and Planning Agency for evaluation, the official said.

The US Congress is expected to authorize the US Navy to make port of call stops in Taiwan, following the US Senate Armed Services Committee’s resolution earlier last month backing US naval visits to the nation.

The news triggered speculation in Taiwan as to which port would be selected by the navy to receive US warships, with Port of Kaohsiung officials last week saying that it is technically suited for the task.

However, the Ministry of National Defense statement suggests that officials favor the Zuoying naval base and not the civilian harbor to its south.

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