Wed, Dec 07, 2005 - Page 2 News List

New kidd-class destroyers set to arrive this weekend

DEFENSIVE BOOSTTwo destroyers bought from the US will arrive in Taiwan on Saturday and give the nation's naval capabilities a boost

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The first two of four US Kidd-class destroyers purchased by the government are due to arrive in Taiwan this weekend, greatly boosting Taiwan's defensive capabilities against China.

The two destroyers, already christened Keelung and Suao, are scheduled to arrive at the Suao naval base on Saturday.

A 600-member Taiwanese crew set sail on Oct. 29 with the warships from Port Charleston in South Carolina.

Navy commander-in-chief Marine General Chen Pang-chih (陳邦治), has said "the destroyers will significantly boost the navy's fleet air defense and anti-submarine warfare capabilities." The navy has also said that the destroyers will help bolster the navy's ability to respond to any Chinese attempt to blockade the island or land an invasion force.

According to the military, the two Kidd-Class destroyers were involved in a simulated battle that was part of this year's annual Han Kuang military exercises, and they performed well during the war games.

The US agreed to sell the government four older Kidd-class destroyers in 2001.

The government purchased four of the 8,000-tonne guided-missile ships in 2003 for US$800 million. They were decommissioned by the US navy in 1998, and are expected to remain in service for another 20 years.

The vessels are equipped with Standard II missiles, Harpoon missiles, five-inch guns and a radar-system capable of simultaneously tracking dozens of incoming airborne threats.

The Standard II missiles have a range of 144km and vastly outperform the Standard I missiles currently deployed on Taiwan's Perry-class frigates.

Given their large displacement, the two destroyers will be docked temporarily at Suao harbor's deep-water berth upon their arrival in Taiwan.

The two ships will later be relocated to the Tsoying (左營) Naval Base in Kaohsiung City after construction of a new deep-water wharf at the base is completed.

Taiwan will take delivery of the remaining two destroyers next year.

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