US ships might resupply in Taiwanese waters: report

SENSIBLE CHOICE::Retired officers said the area between Kaohsiung’s second port and Siaoliouciou was chosen, as it would be the most suitable for 10,000-tonne ships to anchor

By Aaron Tu and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sat, Sep 09, 2017 - Page 1

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) has allegedly requested quotes from local transport companies for resupplying military ships, with rumors that a deal could be signed as early as December, according to a report by online media outlet Up Media yesterday.

The report said US Navy ships could commence resupply runs in Taiwan starting next year.

Should the rumors be substantiated, it would be the greatest breakthrough in Taiwan-US relations in the 38 years since the US officially switched diplomatic recognition to the People’s Republic of China.

However, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Major General Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉), when asked for comment yesterday, said the ministry has no knowledge of any talks.

According to the report, the AIT is in talks with sea transport companies for the provision of water, food and daily necessities to US Navy ships operating between Kaohsiung’s second port and Pingtung’s Siaoliouciou Island (小琉球).

According to the report, the ships would drop anchor during the resupply process, which is estimated to take up to four hours.

The AIT had not specified which classes of US Navy ships would be resupplied, but from the price of the goods, about US$50,000, it would most probably be Ticonderoga-class cruisers or Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, the report said.

Retired officers were quoted by Up Media as saying that ocean currents, depth and the relatively close distance to shore of the area between Kaohsiung’s second port and Siaoliouciou was chosen, as it would be the most suitable for 10,000-tonne ships to anchor.

Should the reports prove true, US ships would then sail to and from the Taiwan Strait east of the Penghu Islands, the retired officers said.

Allowing US Navy ships to resupply in Taiwanese waters is a good idea, as it would not be seen as a breach of the US’ “one China” policy as US ships would not be calling at Taiwanese ports, the report said.

The plan would also allow US Navy ships to be seen by passing ships, which would make a weighty political statement, it added.

A proposal for mutual agreements on ports of call for the US and Taiwanese navies is listed under the US National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 2018.

The act was passed by the US Congress on July 14.

According to the act, the US secretary of defense must submit to the appropriate committee of Congress a report on assessment of feasibility and advisability for bilateral ports of call between the US Navy and the Republic of China Navy in Guam, Hawaii or other appropriate locations no later than Sept. 1 next year.