Fri, Oct 29, 2004 - Page 4 News List

First Kidd-class destroyer scheduled for early delivery

CNA , WASHINGTONWITH STAFF WRITER

The first of the four Kidd-class destroyers the US agreed to sell to Taiwan in 2001 is expected to be delivered ahead of schedule and commissioned into service next year, Taiwan's top envoy to Washington said on Wednesday.

Taiwan's representative to Washington David Lee (李大維) said that he visited a shipyard in Deytens, South Carolina, several days ago and was briefed there that the process of de-mothballing and renovating the four Kidd-class destroyers has been proceeding smoothly, with the work expected to be finished ahead of the original schedule.

Lee did not give an exact date for when the first destroyer is expected to be delivered, citing security considerations.

However, some reports claim the destroyer will be formally commissioned before Oct. 10 next year.

According to a delegation of navy officials who are currently in Deytens to oversee the overhaul of the destroyers' software systems, the first destroyer was originally scheduled to be delivered at the end of next year.

This would be followed by the second, third and fourth destroyers between 2006 and 2007.

Lee said that he was impressed by the performance and work ethic demonstrated by the more than 300 Taiwanese officers taking part in the de-mothballing and renovation projects in the shipyard in Deytens and another in Charleston, South Carolina.

The navy officers are also working there in preparation for taking delivery of the four 9,600-tonne destroyers, which the US originally built for the Shah of Iran in 1979.

They were later mothballed when Iran canceled the deal.

According to an assessment by the navy, the Kidd-class destroyers, which will be equipped with a new missile package, have superb naval and air defense capabilities.

The assessment said that the vessels would provide Taiwan with a powerful deterrent against a naval attack by China until 2010, ahead of Beijing beefing up its own navy with advanced weaponry.

The Kidd-class destroyers are also expected to serve as a training platform for naval officers in preparing them to operate the AEGIS battle-management system in the future, according to the navy.

Taiwan has not yet formally requested a procurement of the AEGIS-equipped destroyers, but the US has been pushing such a deal.

The missile package that will be mounted aboard the Kidd-class destroyers includes 248 SM-2 Block IIIA Standard missiles and 32 RGM-84L Block II Harpoon missiles.

Also included in the destroyer package, which has a price tag of over NT$28.4 billion (US$818 million), are shipyard and port support services, as well as post-transfer activities, including personnel training and spare parts.

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