Military needs new submarines to strengthen defense: ministry
Taiwan’s military on Wednesday defended a submarine prop displayed at a ship commissioning ceremony a day earlier by reiterating the military’s strong desire to acquire new submarines to strengthen the country’s anti- submarine capabilities.
If the country cannot acquire new submarines, it will undermine the country’s defense capabilities, Deputy Defense Minister Liu Chen-wu ( ) told the media before attending a hearing of the Legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.
He was responding to questions about criticism of a “paper submarine” that was on a board placed in the harbor in the Navy’s Zuoying base in Kaohsiung during the ceremony to commission two home-grown military vessels.
At the ceremony, President Ma Ying-jeou pointed to an empty space in the harbor, saying “that area is being saved for the country’s locally made submarines in the future” and reiterating the country’s determination to build indigenous submarines.
The board in front of the empty area showed a photo of a submarine and a Republic of China national flag to symbolize the country’s “new generation submarine.”
The prop was panned as a “paper submarine,” but Liu said it showed the Navy’s ambition to acquire subs, and he stressed that a local submarine program was desperately needed by the Navy and widely supported by the public.
Taiwan is in the process of taking delivery of 12 P-3Cs from the U.S., and Liu said submarines were needed to work with the aircraft to strengthen the coun- try’s anti-submarine capabilities.
Navy officers attending the hearing also said the board was used to demonstrate Taiwan’s determination to get new submarines.
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 to sell Taiwan eight diesel-electric submarines, but it was blocked by the Kuomintang-controlled Legislature in the mid-2000s after a budget request was made by the Democratic Progressive Party administration in 2004.
Little progress has been made on the project since then, prompting Taiwan to seek its own solution.