ROC submarine program interests European firms
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.