Mon, Oct 16, 2017 - Page 3 News List

US officials check ROC ship with eye on N Korea: report

By William Hetherington  /  Staff writer, with CNA

US military officials allegedly recently inspected the Republic of China Navy’s fast combat support ship Panshi to evaluate its capacity for battlefield medical support in the event of combat with North Korea, local media reported yesterday.

Ministry of National Defense spokesman Major General Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉) refused to comment on a report by the Chinese-language Apple Daily when asked for details.

The newspaper said a small contingent of US military officials boarded the Panshi to inspect its facilities and make inquiries regarding its capacity for surgical operations.

The report cited a military source as saying that if the US were to enter into combat with North Korea, it would result in a significant number of casualties, at which time the US would call upon allies to provide humanitarian aid.

However, the report quoted an anonymous ministry source as confirming that the US contingent did visit Taiwan, but saying that their purpose was to attend a forum regarding military medical treatment.

The ministry said the forum was a routine event.

The report also indicated that the US might be interested in the Panshi due to the capability of the ship to accomodate a Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion — the largest and heaviest helicopter in the US military — on each of its decks.

Japan’s major allies in the region lack hospital ships similar to the USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort, and the Panshi could therefore play an important role should military conflict with North Korea occur.

The Panshi’s primary uses include providing logistical support, including fuel and ammunition, during battle, as well as providing international assistance. The ship is designed with low radar visibility and is equipped with a hangar for marine patrol helicopters.

It is equipped with a clinic, an operating room, X-ray equipment, a sterilization room and three wards with a total of 15 beds.

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