Sun, Mar 11, 2018 - Page 3 News List

MND to award shipbuilding project by April

By Aaron Tu, Hung Chen-hung and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

China Shipbuilding Corp (CSBC) on Thursday became first in line for a government program to build amphibious warfare ships, codenamed the Hung Yun Project (鴻運計畫), after it tendered plans that would match the government’s proposed budget of NT$4.6 billion (US$157 million) for two vessels.

Although the Ministry of National Defense has not yet officially awarded the project to CSBC, the company is nonetheless off to a good start, CSBC president Tseng Kuo-cheng (曾國正) said on Friday.

Success in attracting potential builders for the first project in the indigenous shipbuilding program initiated by President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration could be considered a significant step forward, the ministry said.

With China building a great number of amphibious warships for the South China Sea, it is quite possible that Taiwan would build two or three more such vessels and CSBC would do its best to win tenders for such projects as well, Tseng said on Friday.

The ministry has yet to review all the specifications bidders submitted and the results are to be made public after a meeting of an assessment committee at the end of the month or early next month, he said.

The ministry said it plans to take delivery of the first vessel under the Hung Yun project by 2021 and it envisions two vessels as part of the project.

The ministry plans to acquire 153m-long ships with a water displacement of 10,000 tonnes, equipped with 76mm guns, a Phalanx close-in weapon systems and the shipborne variant of the Tien Chien II (“Sky Sword”) missile, the ministry said.

The ship’s main duty would be to carry various amphibious landing craft, AAV-7 amphibious assault transport, as well as other ground vehicles, helicopters and troops, the ministry said.

The project has been hampered by a lack of interest from bidders, as the ministry originally budgeted only NT$3.7 billion for two vessels, and it was only after it in January raised the budget that the first proposals were received.

The project was conceived in 2008 to replace the navy’s ROCS Chung Cheng, which was refitted from the USS Comstock, a Casa Grande-class dock landing ship commissioned by the US in July 1945.

However, the plan languished for nearly 10 years due to a lack of funding.

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