The US signed over two decommissioned Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates to Taiwan last week, which are scheduled to enter the navy’s service by the end of May.
The vessels were signed over on Thursday at a ceremony in Charleston, South Carolina, attended by Commander of the Navy Admiral Huang Shu-kuang (黃曙光), Representative to the US Stanley Kao (高碩泰) and unnamed US officials.
The event was a deliberately low-key affair, purportedly in a bid to avoid provoking diplomatic conflict, particularly with China.
The Ministry of National Defense refused to comment on the transfer, but Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) yesterday confirmed the handover.
The navy dispatched a team of officers to the US to receive training in how to operate the frigates and the vessels would be sailed to Taiwan either jointly or separately, depending on the progress of the training, with both vessels expected to arrive within two months, Tsai said.
“The two frigates have been retrofitted to extend their service lives by about 30 years, making them a highly cost-effective option for the navy,” Tsai said.
The USS Taylor and the USS Gary were in service between 1984 and 2015. They were purchased for a total of about NT$5.5 billion (US$177.21 million) making them substantially cheaper than Taiwan-made Cheng Kung-class frigates — the design of which is based on Perry-class frigates — which cost up to NT$17 billion each.
The US Navy began to deploy Perry-class guided missile frigates in the 1970s and 1980s. The US built 51 of the frigates for its navy and authorized its allies to build them. Eight such frigates have been built in Taiwan.
Despite calls to rename the two vessels after naval heroes, the two frigates have been named the Mingchuan after Qing Dynasty Taiwan governor Liu Ming-chuan (劉銘傳) and the Fengjia after poet Chiu Feng-jia (丘逢甲), who led the resistance against Japan following the Qing Dynasty’s cession of Taiwan to Japan.
In related news, Huang is scheduled to have meetings with high-level US officials, likely from the White House and the Pentagon, although details of the meetings were not revealed, Tsai said.
Huang is the first high-level Taiwanese military official to visit the US following the passage of the US National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which for the first time included a section on senior military exchanges with Taiwan.
“Huang is not the first and will not be the last high-level official visiting the US…. I believe there will be military exchanges involving higher-level officials in the near future,” including the minister of national defense and the chief of general staff, reflecting closer defense ties between the two nations, Tsai said.
INCREASED RISK: The Omicron BA.2.75 subvariant has higher immune evasive capacity, but the CECC is more concerned about newer subvariants such as XBB and BQ.1 With the peak season for infectious respiratory diseases coming to an end, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that details of the next phase of lifting COVID-19 masking rules — removing the mask requirement in most indoor settings — are to be announced this week. Discussions on lifting other COVID-19 restrictions are also being held, including further easing border control measures, home isolation requirements and revising the definition for reporting cases, while also downgrading COVID-19 to a lower category of notifiable communicable disease, said Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the CECC. As the daily
GUT FEELING: In the leaked memo, US Air Force General Mike Minihan urged mobile command personnel to go to a firing range, shoot at a target and ‘aim for the head’ A four-star US Air Force general has warned of a conflict with China as early as 2025 — most likely over Taiwan — and urged his commanders to push their units to achieve maximum operational battle readiness this year. In an internal memorandum that first emerged on social media on Friday, and was later confirmed as genuine by the Pentagon, Air Mobility Command Commander General Mike Minihan said that the main goal should be to deter “and, if required, defeat” China. “I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me we will fight in 2025,” Minihan said. Minihan said that Taiwan’s presidential election
PEACE AND STABILITY: The two nations called for the peaceful resolution of cross-Taiwan Strait issues through dialogue without the threat or use of force or coercion The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday thanked France and Australia for voicing their support for Taiwan, saying that peace across the Taiwan Strait is crucial to the stability and prosperity of international society. France and Australia on Monday pledged to deepen ties with Taiwan and reiterated their support for its participation in international organizations at this year’s Foreign and Defense Ministerial Consultations in Paris. The meeting between French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna, French Minister of the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong (黃英賢) and Australian Minister for Defence Richard Marles was the second
DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM: Czech president-elect Petr Pavel said his nation stands firmly on the side of democracy and would boost cooperation with Taipei in all aspects Czech president-elect Petr Pavel spoke by telephone with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday, a highly unusual move given the lack of formal ties and a diplomatic coup for Taipei. Tsai spoke with Pavel for 15 minutes in a harmonious atmosphere, Presidential Office spokeswoman Lin Yu-chan (林聿禪) said, adding that Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) was also present during the conversation. Lin quoted Pavel as telling Tsai that Taiwan is a trustworthy partner, adding that the Czech Republic stands firmly on the side of democracy and supports Taiwan in maintaining a lively democratic system free from authoritarian coercion. The Czech Republic would