Tsai lauds indigenous ship program at ceremony for new CGA vessels

President Tsai Ing-wen (???) said Wednesday that Taiwan's efforts to build its own military vessels are intended to ensure sustainable maritime development and participate in maritime rescue missions rather than as a show of force.

"As a maritime nation, we particularly need to invest resources in patrolling and defending the coastal borders," Tsai said at Kaohsiung Harbor when presiding over the commissioning of the Coast Guard Administration's (CGA's) new 1,000-ton patrol vessels, the Taitung (CG-133) and the Pingtung (CG-135).

"Recently, disputes have frequently arisen in waters surrounding our nation, and the CGA has taken up the job of protecting Taiwanese fishermen as well as defending the country's maritime sovereignty," she said.

The newly commissioned vessels were built to improve the CGA's capabilities, and the government will continue supporting the program to build CGA vessels at home, the president said.

Tsai issued two directives at the ceremony on the CGA's future development, including to upgrade the command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems on all vessels.

She also said the CGA needs to utilize professional staff trained by the armed forces and police so that it can work with the police in peacetime and defend the country during a war.

According to the CGA, the two new vessels, which both measure 87.6 meters in length and have a beam of 12.8 meters, are equipped with two engines and have a top speed of 24 knots.

They each have a 40-millimeter gun, a 20-millimeter autocannon, two T75 light machine guns, a water cannon that has a maximum range of 120 meters, and a helicopter deck, the CGA noted.

The Taitung and the Pingtung, which have ranges of 6,000 nautical miles, will increase the number of vessels in the CGA's fleet to 156, including 24 of 500 tons or more, the agency said.

The CGA already has two vessels of the same type in service -- the Miaoli (CG-131) and the Taoyuan (CG-132) -- which were launched in 2014 and 2015, respectively, but those two ships are not equipped with the 40-mm gun.

Apart from patrolling the coast, cracking down on smugglers, conducting rescue missions and protecting maritime ecosystems, the CGA is also responsible for the security of Taiwan-controlled islands in the Spratly and Pratas chains in the South China Sea.

Following the commissioning ceremony, the two vessels were opened to visitors, who were able to board the ships and see an exhibition prepared by the CGA about its different missions.

The Taitung and the Pingtung will be grouped with CGA units in eastern and southern Taiwan, respectively.

The Taitung, which arrived at its base in the Port of Hualien in May, has already been sent to patrol the waters around Taiping Island in the South China Sea.

The ship was dispatched to assert Taiwan's right to an exclusive economic zone around the island in mid-July, after an international tribunal in The Hague ruled on July 12 that none of the Spratly Islands, including Taiping (Itu Aba), could be considered "islands" and were therefore not entitled to 200-nautical-mile economic zones.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel