Navy unveils new minesweepers

BOATS AND PLANES::A number of vessels from the Tsuoying Naval Base, plus an aircraft and a helicopter, participated in an exercise off Greater Kaohsiung

By J. Michael Cole  /  Staff reporter, in Greater Kaohsiung

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 - Page 3

The navy yesterday unveiled two refurbished minesweepers acquired from the US last year during a demonstration in waters off Greater Kaohsiung simulating a submarine intrusion.

A Lafayette-class frigate with media onboard, accompanied by two Chengkung-class frigates, a German-made minesweeper and two Osprey-class mine hunters headed into the Taiwan Strait to seek out an intruder submarine.

The mine hunters — MHC 1310 and 1311 — were obtained in August.

Six Kuang Hua VI fast-attack missile boats, an S-2T Turbo Tracker anti-submarine aircraft and an S-70C helicopter, which dropped a sonobuoy to locate the enemy submarine, were also involved in the drill.

A navy Hai Lung submarine surfaced after the S-70 dropped a Mk46 torpedo.

It was the first time that the Osprey mine hunters had been on public display.

A number of vessels anchored at Tsuoying Naval Base, including some that participated in the exercise, showed that progress is being made in a NT$12 billion (US$406 million) program launched in May 2011 to outfit the Chengkung frigates, as well as the domestically made Ching Chiang-class patrol boats, with Hsiung Feng III supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles.

Four HF-3 launchers were seen on the two Chengkung-class frigates, PFG 1105 and PFG 1109, that took part in the exercise. In all, 120 HF-3s are to be added to the navy’s arsenal under the program.

Taiwan’s submarine chasing capabilities will be substantially enhanced after it receives 12 refurbished US P-3C Orion maritime aircraft to replace the aging S-2Ts, which were acquired in the 1980s.

Navy officials said the exercise highlighted the nation’s military preparedness and combat readiness ahead of the Lunar New Year.

A second day of exercises is planned for today at army and air force bases in Hualien.