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Tsai oversees ceremonial launch of Taiwan-built offshore patrol vessel

03/09/2024 05:52 PM
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President Tsai Ing-wen (eighth left in front) and Vice President Lai Ching-te (seventh left in front) pose with other Taiwanese officials and coast guards in front of a 4,000-tonne Chiayi-class Coast Guard offshore patrol vessel. CNA photo March 9, 2024
President Tsai Ing-wen (eighth left in front) and Vice President Lai Ching-te (seventh left in front) pose with other Taiwanese officials and coast guards in front of a 4,000-tonne Chiayi-class Coast Guard offshore patrol vessel. CNA photo March 9, 2024

Kaohsiung, March 9 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) oversaw the launch Saturday of the 4,000-tonne Coast Guard ship "Taipei," one of the Chiayi-class offshore patrol vessels ordered from Taiwan's CSBC Corporation.

At a ceremony in Kaohsiung, Tsai said that Taiwan hoped its domestic shipbuilding program would underline the country's resolve to defend freedom and democracy.

Tsai also observed the delivery of the Taipei's sister ship "Yunlin," which was ceremonially launched in December 2022.

Both ships are equipped with an operating theater and negative pressure rooms, meaning Taiwan can provide more assistance in international humanitarian rescue missions, Tsai noted.

Taiwan's Coast Guard force is expected to receive a significant boost once the two ships enter service, Tsai said, as she successfully smashed a bottle over the Taipei's hull to mark its ceremonial launch.

The government has set aside a budget of NT$42.6 billion (US$1.35 billion) for an initiative to boost the local shipbuilding industry and beef up Taiwan's maritime patrol capacity, Tsai added.

President Tsai Ing-wen (center) and CSBC Corp, Taiwan Chairman Cheng Wen-lon pose with the model of the 4,000-tonne Chiayi-class Coast Guard offshore patrol vessel "Taipei." CNA photo March 9, 2024
President Tsai Ing-wen (center) and CSBC Corp, Taiwan Chairman Cheng Wen-lon pose with the model of the 4,000-tonne Chiayi-class Coast Guard offshore patrol vessel "Taipei." CNA photo March 9, 2024

According to the Ocean Affairs Council (OAC), 141 Coast Guard ships will be built by 2027 under the initiative, which began in 2018.

In a statement on Saturday, the OAC said the Yunlin can withstand level-10 winds and has a range of 10,000 nautical miles.

It is armed with three water cannons for expelling targets and is equipped with field hospital-grade medical stations, the OAC said.

The vessel also has a helicopter pad that can be used by the National Airborne Service Corps when transporting injured personnel.

Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), a research fellow at Taiwan's Institute for National Defense and Security Research, told CNA that the Chiayi-class Coast Guard patrol vessels had good range and maneuverability.

The ships were designed to escort Taiwan-registered fishing boats working in contested waters and protect civilian ships from pirates, Su said.

They can also be deployed against Chinese coast guard ships if necessary, Su said.

The vessels' displacement is comparable to that of the United States Coast Guard's (USCG) Legend-class national security cutters -- the largest patrol vessels in the USCG fleet, Su noted.

The 4,000-tonne Chiayi-class Coast Guard offshore patrol vessel "Yunlin." CNA photo March 9, 2024
The 4,000-tonne Chiayi-class Coast Guard offshore patrol vessel "Yunlin." CNA photo March 9, 2024

In light of China's brazen "gray zone" activities near Taiwan-controlled waters, Su said he believed the ships would boost morale among Taiwan's Coast Guard officers enforcing the law, Su said.

Also in attendance for Saturday's ceremony were Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德), OAC Minister Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲), and CSBC Corp, Taiwan Chairman Cheng Wen-lon (鄭文隆).

Lai, who won the presidential election in January, is scheduled to take office in May.

(By Lin Chiao-lien, Chang Jung-hsiang and Sean Lin)

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