Mon, Mar 14, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Navy seeks home for Kidd-class destroyer at Suao

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of National Defense has suggested renting Suao's civil port to temporarily house the first of the four Kidd-class destroyers that have been bought from the US.

Ministry spokesman Rear Admiral Liu Chih-chien (劉志堅) said the navy will rent Suao civil port to use before its new facilities for Kidd-class destroyers are finished at the Kaohsiung navy base.

"The 9,600-tonne Kidd destroyers are too big for the current naval ports, so the navy is deepening the harbor at the Kaohsiung navy base," he said.

He said the navy is proposing to build new naval docks for the other three Kidd-class destroyers at Keelung and Penghu.

Liao Wen-chung (廖文中), a research fellow at the Atlantic Council of the US, voiced concerned yesterday at the delay in constructing docks for Kidd-class destroyers.

The first of the ships is due to be delivered and commissioned into service before the end of this year.

"It's ridiculous that the new fleet has cost us a lot but no proper naval facilities have been found to base them," Liao said.

He said the military has long wanted eight diesel submarines, but has yet to come up with a proposal to build new sub bases. It would take about 10 years to build submarine facilities, he said.

People First Party (PFP) Legislator Nelson Ku (顧崇廉), a former chief of the navy, said a submarine force would require the construction of several submarine bases, a land-based 4CISR system and other port support services.

He said to show the navy's strong determination to build an advanced submarine force, it should swiftly turn in a construction proposal.

Although Ku has voted against the NT$480 billion (US$12.3 billion) arms deal package that includes eight diesel submarines, 12 P-3C sub-hunting aircraft and 3 PAC-3 missile batteries, he has lobbied for an advanced submarines force.

He said some people in Taiwan and US defense circles are concerned that the submarine deal has moved so slowly.

The US sold four Kidd-class destroyers to Taiwan in 2001. The rest of the ships are expected to be delivered between next year and 2007.

The navy had said the process of renovating the four destroyers has been proceeding smoothly in Deytens, South Carolina.

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