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U.S. research vessel docks at Kaohsiung Port

2018/10/16 20:12:29

Photo courtesy of Taiwan International Ports Corp.

Taipei, Oct. 16 (CNA) A U.S. Navy research vessel that docked at Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan Monday is unrelated to military activity, Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發) said Tuesday.

The Thomas G. Thompson entered the port for refueling and changes to crew arrangements. It will leave Thursday for Australia, according to the Taiwan International Ports Corp., which manages the port.

The Thomas G. Thompson has visited the port four times this year, all for refueling, according to the company.

Asked by lawmakers during a legislative session whether the defense ministry was aware of the matter and whether the ship's entry into the port is related to the U.S.' new national defense authorization act that includes provisions to help Taiwan strengthen its defense capabilities, Yen said that the ministry keeps abreast of any ships once they enter Taiwan's territorial waters.

The Thomas G. Thompson is a naval scientific research vessel operated under a charter party agreement with the University of Washington, Yen said.

Its entry to the port has nothing to do with the national defense authorization act, Yen added.

Yen also said that the vessel's post call in Taiwan is unrelated to U.S. plans for a global show of force to warn China and demonstrate resolve to deter military actions by Beijing, contradicting a report by CNN.

Earlier Tuesday, Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉), spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense, said the purpose of the Thomas G. Thompson's visit is to collect maritime information data in waters surrounding Taiwan through cooperation with research fellows at National Taiwan University (NTU).

Meanwhile, Tseng Yu-heng (曾于恒), a professor at NTU's Institute of Oceanography, said the U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research has launched an international project regarding tropical intraseasonal oscillation in collaboration with China, Japan and South Korea.

Tseng added that although Taiwan is not participating in the project, teachers at the institute have had discussions with research teams participating in the project.

(By Wang Cheng-chung and Evelyn Kao)