Wed, Nov 26, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Navy retires destroyers

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The navy will next month decommission two of the seven remaining Yang-class destroyers, which have been in operation for over five decades, defense sources said.

The Yunyang and Chengyang will be the first two of the de-stroyers to be retired, marking an end to their 22 years of service in Taiwan.

The seven destroyers, built in the 1940s, were previously in the US Navy, where they were called Gearing-class destroyers. They were delivered to Taiwan between 1973 and 1983.

They are now also known as the Wuchin No. 3 ships because of a weapons control system upgrade program of that name.

The US-built weapons systems respond more quickly and allow for better coordination between on-board weapons systems than is possible on newer warships in the navy such as the Knox-class and Chengkung-class frigates.

The destroyers will be replaced by four Kidd-class destroyers that will be delivered from the US over the next few years.

Because of a military-wide personnel streamlining project that will start next year, the navy is having to retire the Yang-class destroyers to make crew available for the new ships.

The first two are scheduled to be decommissioned in the middle of next month in Keelung Harbor, where they are all stationed.

The Wuchin weapons control systems, US-built systems also known as the H930 modular combat system, will be transferred to the eight Knox-class frigates.

The frigates do not have an equivalent system despite being newer ships.

A naval officer who served on one of the destroyers said the Wuchin system was the finest of its kind that the navy had ever used.

"The system is still very good compared with current standards. It is highly automated. It uses a touch screen, which was rare at the time it was introduced into the country," the officer said.

"The system started to be used here in the mid-1980s. It had gone through a series of tests before entering service. At first, the navy did not expect the system to be so good since it had not been operated by other navies," he said.

With the Wuchin systems, the seven Yang-class destroyers were the first ships in the navy to be equipped with the Standard SM-1 long-range, air-defense missile.

The eight Knox-class frigates are more vulnerable against attacks from the air but more powerful during anti-submarine warfare.

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