Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Taiwan president determined to push for local submarine construction program

"Submarines are the most significant weapon for a country in building naval defense capabilities."

Kaohsiung, March 31 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Tuesday reiterated Taiwan's determination to push ahead with its domestic submarine program to modernize its fleet and bolster the country's defense capabilities.

"We aim to acquire new-generation submarines to safeguard our costal frontier," Ma said at a ceremony at which two military vessels -- Taiwan's first home-grown stealth missile corvette and a new supply ship -- were put into service.

"Submarines are the most significant weapon for a country in building naval defense capabilities. The military absolutely needs to acquire (new) submarines," he said.

Reiterating Taiwan's effort to develop its own home-grown submarine program, Ma said "we have the determination and we are definitely confident that we will achieve the goal of building submarines locally."

Tuesday's ceremony was held at the Navy's Zuoying base in Kaohsiung, the largest naval base in Taiwan.

In addition to the two new ships -- the Tuo Jiang (沱江) and Pan Shi (磐石) -- other home-grown military boats and vessels used by Taiwan's Coast Guard were docked at the naval base to showcase the country's shipbuilding capabilities.

Pointing to an empty space in the harbor, Ma said "that area is being saved for the country's locally made submarines in the future."

Facing challenges to procure submarines and other military hardware from abroad because of China's objections, Taiwan has taken the initiative to build military vessels on its own, which the president said has helped upgrade the country's domestic shipbuilding capabilities and also created job opportunities.

Over the past seven years, the government has put NT$56 billion (US$1.789 billion) into building all kinds of vessels, he said.

To build new submarines to replace Taiwan's aging vessels, it is believed Taiwan would need assistance on design and technology from overseas.

Meanwhile, the president reiterated the Navy's efforts to protect the country, and he said it will also continue to work with the Coast Guard to ensure the safety of Taiwanese fishermen operating in the Taiwan Strait, the East China Sea, the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. 

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