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Taiwan Navy establishes first minelaying squadrons

2022-01-15
Focus Taiwan
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CNA photo Jan. 14, 2022
CNA photo Jan. 14, 2022

Kaohsiung, Jan. 14 (CNA) Taiwan's Navy on Friday established its first two minelaying squadrons consisting of one minelayer each at Kaohsiung's Zuoying naval base.

"These are the first minelaying squadrons established by the Republic of China Navy," President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said at a ceremony to mark the formation of the Navy's first and second minelaying squadrons under the 192th Fleet.

"I am very glad we have been able to witness this important moment together," she said.

Tsai said the newly established forces show Taiwan's achievement at building up its domestic defense industry and commitment to safeguarding the nation.

The Navy allocated NT$917.77 million (US$33.25 million) from 2017 to 2021 to build four fast minelaying ships with the aim of enhancing Taiwan's mine deployment capacity to better counter enemy threats.

According to the contracted Taiwanese shipbuilder, Lungteh Shipbuilding, each minelayer measures 41 meters in length and 8.8 meters in width, and has a draft of 1.607 meters and a full-load displacement of 347 tons.

The minelayers are armed with a T-75 20mm cannon on the bow, and a T-74 7.62mm machine gun and three mine-laying tracks on each side. The four vessels are also equipped with an automatic mine-laying system developed by the National Chung-shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST).

All four vessels, which can carry different types of mines, were delivered by the end of 2021, but only two entered into active service on Friday.

According to Tsai, Navy officers used to lay mines in the sea using landing ships, but that was not efficient and also potentially dangerous in choppy waters.

The new minelayers built by Lungteh Shipbuilding and equipped with NCSIST's system will enable the Navy to carry out its tasks more efficiently and accurately, Tsai said.

The ROC Naval Fleet Command said the minelaying forces were established as part of the Ministry of National Defense's efforts to bolster the nation's asymmetric defense capabilities.

The new forces can collaborate with allies to jointly deter and delay the landing of enemy forces on the island, the command said.

Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), an analyst at the government-funded Institute for National Defense and Security Research, told CNA that mines are "cheap and highly effective denial weapons" that can disrupt an enemy's advance and force their vessels to alter planned routes.

They can be also used in conjunction with anti-ship missiles to strengthen the country's defense, Su added.

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