19 January 2017
TAIPEI, Taiwan-- The R.O.C. Navy on Wednesday treated local media to a rare tour of the interior of the one of nation's World War II-era submarines, as it staged a pre-Lunar New Year drill at Zuoying Naval Base in Kaohsiung.
The press was shown the fruits of the Navy's efforts to keep the U.S.-built Guppy-class Hai Pao or Seal, in seaworthy condition.
The submarine is one of two Guppy-class submarines Taiwan has in active service.
Hai Pao was built by the U.S. in WWII, and modernized to Guppy II class in 1949 before being transferred to Taiwan in the early 1970s.
Although no longer combat-ready, the submarine still plays a vital role as a training ship for the Navy's rookie submariners.
The Navy also has two Dutch submarines built in the 1980s.
Taiwan has been asking the U.S. to sell diesel-powered submarines for more than a decade in the hope of replacing the Dutch subs.
In 2001, the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush offered to provide eight diesel-electric submarines. However, so far, no significant progress has been made on the purchase of the vessels.
In the interim, the R.O.C. military launched a program to build an indigenous submarine, with the Navy saying the construction of the first locally-built vessel could be completed by 2024.
Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan reiterated Taiwan military's stance Friday that the circumnavigation earlier this month of Taiwan island by the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning "starkly demonstrates the importance of continuing with the indigenous submarine program."
Meanwhile, the Navy also staged an assault landing exercise, during which AAV7 amphibious assault vehicles and Newport-class tank landing ship Chung Ping skippered by Captain Yu Yi-lien, the Navy's first female captain — were deployed to test Navy's combat readiness.
The drill, an annual event opened to media, was held ahead of six-day Lunar New Year holiday, set to run from Jan. 27 to Feb. 1.
The army and the air force held similar drills a day earlier to demonstrate their combat readiness.