Mon, Nov 26, 2007 - Page 2 News List

NEWSMAKER: Navy's Hsieh Ai-chieh poised to make history

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lieutenant Commander Hsieh Ai-chieh, right, is pictured together with Navy Commander-in-Chief Admiral Wang Li-shen on Nov. 18.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF MILITARY NEWS AGENCY

On Dec. 16, Lieutenant Commander Hsieh Ai-chieh (謝艾潔) will become the first female captain of a Navy patrol vessel.

Hsieh, 30, recently completed a training course for captains of "third-class" battleships. She will captain the Jiin-jiang, a PGG-603 patrol vessel.

Lieutenant Commander Chen Yi-hsin (陳怡心) completed the same course at the Naval Academy and will go on to become the Navy's second female patrol vessel captain.

"Hsieh is remarkable. She is our pride and joy. I am confident in assigning her as captain of the Jiin-jiang," said Admiral Wang Li-shen (王立申), commander-in-chief of the Navy.

Naval Command Headquarters spokesman Vice Admiral Sun Yi-cheng (孫宜成) also paid tribute to Hsieh.

"[The captain of a patrol vessel] may not be able to see friends or family for lengthy periods of time, say up to 10 days, when on assignment," Sun said. "The Jiin-jiang's home port is in Keelung but Hsieh lives in Pingtung. So it took a lot of courage and determination for her to achieve what she has."

Hsieh, who gave birth to a daughter in March, is a native of Changhua. She graduated from National Changhua Girls' Senior High School in 1994 and finished her bachelor's degree at the Naval Academy's Department of Engineering in 1998.

career

Since beginning her naval career, Hsieh has served as a communications officer on board the Gearing-class DDG-928 Cheng-yang, a warfare officer on board the Perry-class PFG-1107 Tzu-yi, an intelligence officer at the Naval Command Headquarters' department of intelligence, a missile chief on board the Perry-class PFG-1105 Chih-kwang, an intelligence officer at the Navy Fleet Command Headquarters and a communications officer with Naval Fleet 151.

Hsieh was also one of the first 20 women to graduate from the Naval Academy.

Naval Fleet Command Headquarters spokesman Rear Admiral Liou Chih-chien (劉志堅) said that many of the first group of female graduates were assigned as first officers on third-class battleships, but they eventually applied for desk jobs because of health problems or family concerns.

Hsieh declined to be interviewed, but speaking on behalf of Hsieh, Liou said that the future captain would prefer to maintain a low-profile as her new job has not been officially announced and she wants to lead as normal a life as possible.

Liou said Hsieh hoped that her achievements would be reported on, rather than her family or private life.

Kong Chien-kuo (孔建國), head of National Changhua Girls' Senior High School and Shih Chin-tai (施金泰), Hsieh's high school teacher, said that Hsieh was born to be a military officer.

financial constraints

"She was always very polite and she loved to help people. Also, it seemed to me that she likes to be a `hero,'" Shih said. "I understand that she decided to enroll in the Naval Academy because of her family's financial constraints. But I think she made the right decision."

The Jiin-jiang, which was built by Kaohsiung Chih-chin United Shipbuilding Corp, it belongs to the Navy's Fleet 131. There are a total of 12 vessels of its kind. The Jiin-jiang was completed on June 27, 1994, and went into service on Dec. 1 that year.

The Jiin-jiang can attain a top speed of 25 knots (46kph) and is equipped with sonar, a 40mm gun, two 50mm guns, Hsiung Feng II anti-ship missiles, Mk6 depth charges and torpedoes.

Lieutenant Commander Chang Chung-ming (張忠銘), a former captain of the Jiin-jiang, said while the vessel's home port is in Keelung, regular maintenance work will be carried out twice a year--spring in Magong and fall in Suao.

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