Taiwan Navy’s Future Minelayer hits the water

Taiwan plans to design and build several classes of vessels in the 2020s.

The Republic of China (RoC)’s first indigenously developed minelaying vessel being built for the RoC Navy has been quietly launched in the Su’ao Township in Taiwan’s southern Yilan County, local media reported on 12 March.

The unnamed vessel is part of the Ministry of National Defense’s (MND’s) Project Perpetual/Forever Victory (Yǒng jié jì huà)), a $24.5 million programme which aims to build four next-generation fast minelayers for the RoCN to enhance its ability to counter amphibious landing operations on its soil by denying possible approaches to enemy assets.

A competitive tender was held in October 2018, with the Yilan-based Lung Teh Shipbuilding securing the contract and commencing construction of the first hull at its Yard No.2 in Dongshan Township from mid-2019. The completed hull was then delivered to its Yard No.5 in Su’ao Township, where systems integration and further testing is expected to take place.

According to reports, the fast minelayers will be 41 metres long, 8.8 metres wide, 3.2 metres tall above the waterline, and will displace approximately 347 tonnes at full load. It is expected to be capable of a top speed of 14 knots (25km/h) and operate out to distances of 1,200 nautical miles (2,222km).

The vessels will be equipped with an indigenously designed automatic minelaying system which will carry close to 100 mines. They will also be armed with T74 general purpose machine guns and T75 light machine guns for self-defence.

Taiwan also plans to design and build several classes of vessels in the 2020s, including new missile frigates, 11 new Tuo-Jiang (Tuo River)-class catamaran guided missile corvettes, and an amphibious warfare ship.

Meanwhile, local shipbuilder CSBC Corporation is building a new $120 million facility in the southern port of Kaohsiung to design build diesel-electric submarines. The company is partnering with the state-run National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) to construct between six and eight submarines that are up to 70m long and displace up to 3,000 tonnes.

The first submarine is expected to be completed by the mid-2020s.

by Jr Ng