Mon, Aug 14, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Coast guard submits plan to replace 130 sea vessels

By Lo Tien-pin and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The coast guard is to retire up to 130 aging seafaring vessels in its fleet over the next 10 years, an official said on Saturday, citing a plan submitted by the Coast Guard Administration to the Ministry of the Interior.

Set to coincide with the purchase of 141 new vessels, the plan would save maintenance costs and insurance expenses for the coast guard, the official said.

The vessels to be phased out include two 3,000-ton ships, four 2,000-ton ships, six 1,000-ton ships, eight 500-ton ships and a large number of patrol boats, the official said.

Although most of the coast guard’s bigger ships are not particularly old, their high malfunction rates have led to high costs for upkeep and insurance premiums, the official said.

The coast guard pays about NT$50 million (US$1.65 million) to insure its fleet every year, but the 2,100-ton Tainan and other big ships plagued by mechanical problems can drive up costs to as high as NT$80 million, the official said.

In the latest fiscal years, annual insurance premiums have climbed at a rate of about NT$10 million to NT$20 million per year, posing a major burden for the coast guard, the official said.

The first large patrol ships the coast guard plans to retire are the 1,800-ton Wei Hsing and Ho Hsin, the official said.

The two ships — which fall into the 2,000-ton group of ships in the coast guard’s classification system — were built domestically in 1992 according to a design based on the US Coast Guard’s medium endurance cutter USCGC Bear.

By the time of the evaluations for the ships’ decommissioning, the Wei Hsing will have spent 26 years in service and the Ho Hsing 27 years, the official said.

The evaluations are scheduled next year for the Wei Hsing and the year after that for the Ho Hsing, the official said.

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