ROC sub­ma­rine pro­gram in­ter­ests Euro­pean firms

The China Post - - LOCAL -

Sev­eral Euro­pean com­pa­nies have ex­pressed in­ter­est in work­ing with Tai­wanese ship­builders on Tai­wan’s sub­ma­rine pro­gram, a se­nior mil­i­tary of­fi­cer said Wed­nes­day.

So far, more than 20 com­pa­nies from Europe are in­ter­ested in col­lab­o­rat­ing with their Tai­wanese coun­ter­parts on an in­dige­nous sub­ma­rine pro­gram, said Vice Chief of the Gen­eral Staff Adm. Pu Tze-chun dur­ing a hear­ing of the Leg­is­la­ture’s For­eign Af­fairs and Na­tional De­fense Com­mit­tee.

Some com­pa­nies in the United States have also ex­pressed in­ter­est in the pro­gram, he told law­mak­ers in re­sponse to ques­tions on the is­sue.

An­other fo­cus of the hear­ing con­cerned the progress of the Navy’s plans to over­haul its two 70-year-old U.S.-built Guppy-class subs, which are used only for train­ing. Cur­rently, Tai­wan also has two Dutch-made subs that serve as the Navy’s main sub­ma­rine battle force.

In re­sponse, Navy Chief of Staff Vice Adm. Hsiao Wei-min said that some lo­cal ship­build­ing com­pa­nies have ex­pressed in­ter­est in car­ry­ing out the over­haul pro­gram.

The Navy is as­sess­ing th­ese com­pa­nies’ abil­i­ties to con­duct the project and is dis­cussing with them de­tails of the project, Hsiao said.

Mean­while, Pu said that the Navy has an ul­ti­mate goal of build­ing an in­dige­nous sub­ma­rine in co­op­er­a­tion with lo­cal ship­builders. The over­haul pro­gram for the aging train­ing subs could be a first step be­fore a move to build sub­marines, he added.

The Navy has been in talks with do­mes­tic ship­builders on a home-grown sub­ma­rine pro­gram to re­place its aging diesel-elec­tric sub­marines, the of­fi­cers said, and a de­sign of the sub­ma­rine is ex­pected to be com­pleted be­tween 2016 and 2019.

In 2001, then- U. S. Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush pro­posed sell­ing Tai­wan eight diesel-elec­tric sub­marines, but this was blocked by the Kuom­intang- con­trolled Leg­is­la­ture in the mid-2000s af­ter a bud­get re­quest was made by the then- rul­ing Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party ad­min­is­tra­tion in 2004.

Lit­tle progress has been made on the project since then, prompt­ing Tai­wan to seek its own so­lu­tion.

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