Mon, Oct 26, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Itu Aba lighthouse to open this year

INNOVATIVE:The lighthouse is the nation’s only one with an outer wall built with a special pebble surface that can withstand humidity and prevent cracking, officials said

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The Maritime and Port Bureau said a lighthouse on Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) as well as a newly built seaport pier are scheduled to begin operations before the end of this year, a project meant to support the nation’s ownership of the island in the South China Sea.

The bureau said the lighthouse on the largest naturally formed Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) would bring the total number of lighthouses in the nation to 36 and replace the Oluanpi Lighthouse as Taiwan’s southernmost lighthouse.

A cylindrical tower made of reinforced concrete, the 12.7m-high lighthouse on Itu Aba is the only lighthouse in the nation to have an outer wall built with a special pebble surface that can withstand humidity and prevent the occurence of wall cracks, the bureau said.

The nominal distance of the light transmitted from the lighthouse is close to 10 nautical miles (18.5km), which means the light can been seen on Sand Cay — known as Dunqian Sand Island (敦謙沙洲) in Mandarin and Son Ca Island to the Vietnamese — which is occupied by Vietnam.

While Sand Cay has been occupied by Vietnam since 1974, it is also claimed by Taiwan, China and the Philippines.

As the cay is only 7 nautical miles (13km) away from the Itu Aba and is within the nominal distance of the lighthouse, the bureau said it would carefully monitor the reactions from Vietnam to the lighthouse’s beacon.

The unmanned lighthouse is going to be run automatically, with a backup system that would be activated when if the main one goes out of order, the bureau said, adding that the lighthouse would be maintained by the Coast Guard Administration’s Nansha Command.

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