Wed, Apr 01, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Ma touts domestic submarine program

MADE IN TAIWAN:At the launch of two domestically produced naval vessels, Ma said ‘the submarine is the most significant weapon’ and Taiwan should produce it

Staff writer, with CNA

President Ma Ying-jeou, standing in car, presides over the inauguration of two new warships at Zuoying navy base in Kaohsiung yesterday.

Photo: CNA

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday reiterated Taiwan’s determination to push ahead with its domestic submarine program to modernize its fleet and bolster the nation’s defense capabilities.

“We aim to acquire next-generation submarines to safeguard our coastal frontier,” Ma said at a ceremony at which two military vessels — Taiwan’s first home-grown stealth missile corvette and a new supply ship — were put into service.

“The submarine is the most significant weapon for a country building its naval defense capabilities. The military absolutely needs to acquire [new] submarines,” he said.

Emphasizing Taiwan’s effort to develop its own submarine program, Ma said: “We have the determination and we are definitely confident that we will achieve the goal of building submarines domestically.”

Yesterday’s ceremony was held at the Zuoying (左營) naval base in Kaohsiung, the largest naval base in the nation.

The two new vessels are part of the navy’s efforts to modernize its fleet.

The 500-tonne twin-hulled Hsun-hai class corvette, the Tuo Jiang, cost about NT$2.1 billion (US$66.04 million) to build and was officially delivered to the navy by domestic shipbuilder Lung Teh Shipbuilding Co at a ceremony held on Dec. 23 last year in Yilan County’s Suao Port.

The Tuo Jiang is equipped with several weapons, including domestically developed Hsiung Feng II and Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missiles, a 76mm gun and Mark 46 torpedoes, the navy said.

It has a range of 2,000 nautical miles (3,704km), is 60.4m long and 14m wide, and carries a crew of up to 41. Training on the vessel has already begun.

The new supply vessel, the Pan Shi, was delivered to the navy by domestic shipbuilder CSBC Corp in January at a ceremony in Kaohsiung, and training has since begun on the second supply vessel in the navy’s fleet.

The vessel will help extend the navy’s maritime combat capabilities through its support of Taiwanese warships, and boost the nation’s ability to provide international humanitarian assistance, Ma said.

The Pan Shi is to be used to transport fuel, ammunition and other supplies to support the navy fleet in wartime. In peacetime, it is to be used mainly to carry supplies, conduct maritime rescue missions, and provide humanitarian assistance.

The new supply vessel, which cost NT$4.09 billion to build, is 196m long and 25.2m wide, can accomodate a crew of up to 165 people, and has a range of 8,000 nautical miles, according to the navy.

It can reach a maximum speed of 22 knots and has a load displacement of about 20,000 tonnes.

In addition to the Tuo Jiang and the Pan Shi, other domestically built military boats and vessels used by the coast guard were docked at the naval base to showcase the nation’s shipbuilding capabilities.

Pointing to an empty space in the harbor, Ma said: “That area is being saved for the nation’s domestically made submarines in the future.”

Facing challenges to procure submarines and other military hardware from abroad because of Beijing’s objections, Taiwan has begun to build naval vessels on its own, which Ma said has helped upgrade the nation’s domestic shipbuilding capabilities and also created job opportunities.

The Tuo Jiang is to be based with the 131st Fleet in Keelung on Taiwan’s northern coast, while the Pan Shi is to join the 151st Fleet, which is based in Zuoying.

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