Tue, May 07, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Officials to break ground on secret submarine site

DETAILS PHASE:The facility is pivotal in the indigenous submarine program and its construction is expected to be completed by the end of next year, the sources said

By Aaron Tu, Lai Hsiao-tong and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

A marine patrol helicopter flies above Hai Lung-class submarine Hai Hu (Sea Tiger) during an exercise in an undated photograph.

Photo: Lo Tien-bin, Taipei Times

The government is on Thursday to break ground on an indigenous submarine construction and repair facility, sources said, after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Sunday said that she would oversee the groundbreaking ceremony “a few days from now.”

Tsai made the remarks on the sidelines of a visit to Chaoho Temple in New Taipei City’s Banciao District (板橋), saying that the facility would demonstrate Taiwanese’s will and ability to defend the nation, and furnish the military with weapons that could not be procured abroad.

China’s ambitions have unsettled many nations in the region and they worry that they would be next should Taiwan fall, Tsai said, adding that the nation would have no shortage of allies as long as she is president.

The facility would have a pivotal role in the indigenous submarine program and its construction is expected to be completed by the end of next year, the sources said.

As the facility’s location needs to be kept secret, the guest list for the groundbreaking ceremony would be limited to a select few politicians and industry executives, they said, adding that on-site security measures would be stringent.

The Ministry of National Defense has allocated NT$49.3 billion (US$1.59 billion) over six years for a prototype submarine, of which NT$7.51 billion — including NT$3.7 billion for the facility — is slated for this year’s defense budget, government documents show.

The ministry has begun working on the design details phase of the program and expects to finalize it by September next year, the sources said.

As the last phase of the program’s design process, the details phase is the stage in which the ministry finalizes the full design and technical specifications of the boat and selects contractors to supply the components.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a lawmaker said that legislators held a secret session with the ministry before it launched the design details phase and another meeting would be held to review the results in September.

The government plans to retain the rights to all technologies and components connected with the submarines, the lawmaker added.

A final secret session is to take place when the boat is completed and lawmakers reserve the right to call additional meetings with ministry officials if necessary, they said.

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