The nation’s new stealth missile corvette, the Tuo Jiang (沱江), began its service yesterday.
Minister of National Defense Yen Ming (嚴明) presided over the ship commissioning ceremony at Suao Port in Yilan County.
The 500-tonne corvette was handed over by its builder Lung Teh Shipbuilding Co to the Republic of China Navy yesterday morning after undergoing performance testing and sea trials in recent weeks.
Yen touted the newly commissioned vessel as “currently the fastest warship in Asia and possessing the most firepower.”
“The ship’s commissioning today marks a milestone in the Republic of China Navy’s efforts to enhance its combat capabilities and modernize its fleet,” he said.
Yen said the program is a model of success for the military’s domestic warship-building policy, since the Tuo Jiang is a wholly indigenous production, from its concept and design to its manufacturing.
Photo: Chien Jung-Fong, Taipei Times
The ship’s captain, Lieutenant Commander Wang Te-jean (王得?), affirmed the corvette’s reputation as a first-rate littoral combat warship.
“It is the navy’s aircraft-carrier killer. With speed, good mobility and stealth technology, the corvette can get close to its target before launching a missile attack,” Wang said.
The vessel can carry 16 Hsiung Feng II and Hsiung Feng III anti-ship supersonic missiles.
According to its original design, the corvette has a maximum speed of 38 knots (70.4kph), but it was able to reach 44 knots during the sea trials, Wang said.
Its advanced electronics system allows the captain to direct the vessel without having to remain on the bridge, he added.
The corvette is outfitted with an Otobreda 76mm gun, four 12.7mm machine guns, an MK15 Phalanx close-in weapons system and three MK32 torpedo launchers each on the port side and the starboard sides.
The Tuo Jiang has a twin-hulled catamaran design with a combination of tilted angles and flat surfaces to give it a low observation profile, along with the use of radar-absorbent materials with other advanced stealth technologies to reduce its visibility to radar detection and tracking.
“It has two MTU V16 diesel engines that power a water-jet propulsion system, which enables the ship to sprint high in the water at high velocities, even in rough conditions,” navy spokesman Vice Admiral Wen Cheng-kuo (聞振國) said, adding that it has a range of 2,000 nautical miles (3,704km).
Following the handover, the navy is to begin training personnel to familiarize them with the craft, which is based at the port in Suao Township (蘇澳).
The vessel cost about NT$2.1 billion (US$66.39 million), and the navy has plans to commission eight to 12 of the corvettes, depending on budget funding.
Lung Teh began construction of the Tuo Jiang in late 2012.
Huang lauded the navy’s efforts to work with local shipbuilding companies.
In a symbolic gesture, Lung Teh chairman Huang Shou-chen (黃守真) handed over a miniature model of the corvette to Yen.
The 60.4m-long, 14m-wide vessel is patterned after Independence-class LCS (littoral combat ships) produced by the US that are designed to operate mostly in coastal zones.
Additional reporting by CNA
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