The launch of the nation’s first domestically built amphibious transport dock marks a milestone in Taiwan’s shipbuilding history and would significantly boost the navy’s capabilities, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday at a launch ceremony in Kaohsiung.
Tsai said that the amphibious transport dock, named Yu Shan (玉山) after the nation’s highest peak, is the navy’s first in the 10,000-tonne category.
With its imminent deployment, the nation’s defense capabilities would be boosted, as the navy’s operations would be enhanced, she said at the ceremony at the Kaohsiung shipyard of shipbuilder CSBC Corp, Taiwan (台灣國際造船).
Photo: Ritchie B. Tongo, EPA-EFE
CSBC in April 2018 won a bid to build an amphibious transport dock prototype at a cost of NT$4.6 billion (US$161.6 million).
The prototype is expected to go into service in the first half of next year, replacing the navy’s only amphibious transport dock, the ROCS Hsu Hai, which has been in service for 50 years and was formerly named the USS Pensacola.
The new ship is to be used to support amphibious operations and transport missions, while also serving as a hospital ship on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in peacetime.
Photo: Chiang Ying-ying, AP
Military sources said that it is to be fitted with an MK-75 76mm gun, two MK-15 Phalanx close-in weapons systems, and two Tien Chien-2N radar guided surface-to-air missiles.
It is able to support various landing craft, assault amphibious vehicles and two helicopters, and has a maximum load of 673 people, the sources said.
CSBC chairman Cheng Wen-lon (鄭文隆) said that the vessel is 153m long and 23m wide.
Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), a senior analyst at the government-funded Institute for National Defense and Security Research, said that the navy had been using the decommissioned US-made amphibious transport dock, but because of its age, the maintenance costs were high, so the nation decided to build its own amphibious transport dock.
The launch was part of the nation’s ongoing efforts to expand its indigenous defense capacity by building its own aircraft, ships and submarines, an initiative that began when Tsai took office in May 2016.
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