Fri, Oct 17, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Navy will regroup when Kidds arrive

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Once it receives the four Kidd-class destroyers on order from the US, the navy is to launch its largest structural revamp in decades by establishing a second task force to ensure greater survivability and fire power in time of war, defense sources said yesterday.

The second task force, to be named "Task Force 63," will be comprised of several detachments made up of a combination of Kidd-class destroyers, Lafayette-class, Knox-class and Chengkung-class frigates, as well as submarines.

Task Force 62 has been the navy's sole task force since the end of World War II. Task Force 62 was the name the US gave the the Republic of China's navy, which signified allied relations between the two countries.

In times of war, the navy deploy ships on the basis of combat grouping. So Task Force 62 is a temporary grouping of seven to eight detachments, which are a mixture of Yang-class destroyers, Lafayette-class, Knox-class and Chengkung-class frigates, auxiliary and supply ships.

It is different from a permanent grouping of warships during peacetime.

In peacetime, the navy's warships are deployed in groups of the same class ship at one base or patrol area, which is called administrative grouping.

The establishment of the Task Force 63 is aimed at achieving greater survivability and fire power in the battlefield, a naval officer said.

"With an extra task force, the navy does not have to worry that it might be placing all its eggs in one basket. Even if Task Force 62 is destroyed or disabled, the navy still has another combat force at its disposal," the officer said.

"Task Force 63 will also to have greater fire power. The four Kidd-class destroyers will become the flag ships of separate detachments of the task force," he said.

They will have the most powerful radar and the longest-range air defense missile in the service," he said.

"Task Force 63 might replace Task Force 62 as the main battle force. But that is not the issue," he said.

A naval flag officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Task Force 63 will be commanded by the chief of the educational training and doctrine development command.

"For decades, the chief-of-the-fleet command has been the only one in the navy to whom the service's commander-in-chief will grant the power to command Task Force 62," the flag officer said.

"In future, the chief of the educational training and doctrine development will have the same power as the fleet-command chief. He will be granted the power to command Task Force 63," he said.

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