The navy yesterday established its first two minelaying squadrons, each armed with one minelayer, at the Zuoying Naval Base in Kaohsiung.
“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 first and second minelaying squadrons under the 192nd Fleet. “I am glad we are able to witness this important moment together.”
Tsai said that the newly established forces show Taiwan’s achievement in building up its domestic defense industry and commitment to safeguarding the nation.
Photo: Taiwan Presidential Office via AP
The navy allocated NT$917.77 million (US$33.22 million) from 2017 to last year to build four rapid minelaying ships with the aim of enhancing Taiwan’s mine deployment capacity to better counter enemy threats.
Taiwanese manufacturer Lungteh Shipbuilding said that each minelayer is 41m long and 8.8m wide, and has a draft of 1.607m with a full-load displacement of 315 tonnes.
The minelayers are each 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 vessels are also equipped with an automatic mine-laying system developed by the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology.
The ships, which can carry different types of mines, were delivered before the end of last year, but only two were put into active service yesterday.
The navy previously placed mines in the sea using landing ships, but that was not efficient and also potentially dangerous in choppy waters, Tsai said.
The minelayers built by Lungteh and equipped with the institute’s system would enable the navy to lay mines more efficiently and accurately, she said.
The 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, it said.
Institute for National Defense and Security Research analyst Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲) said 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, he added.
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