Taiwanese media reported that Vice Premier Chen Chi-mai, Minister of the Ocean Affairs Council (OCA) Lee Chung-wei, National Security Council (NSC) Deputy Secretary-General York Chen, Jong Shyn Shipbuilding Company (JSSC) chairman Han Pi-hsiang and coast guard officials attended the ceremony.
However, because of the pandemic of coronavirus, the ceremony was scaled-down. No other government officials, local government officials, politicians or media were invited to attend the ceremony.
According to a cabinet press release, vice premier Chen Chi-mai said “the government is committed to providing the best patrol ships and the best weapons” to the coast guard. The Tsai Ing-wen administration has been working hard on the “Indigenous National Defense Policy” (國防自主國艦國造, which means having an independent defense, build ships locally) since it took office in 2016.
The ceremony also marked the start of work on a third 600-tonne patrol vessel, as well as a third 35-tonne vessel for the Coast Guard Administration (CGA).
About Anping-class Coast Guard Catamaran Patrol Vessel
The new vessel Anping (CG-601) is the first of 12 locally designed and built 600-ton class catamaran patrol vessel. It is fitted with high-pressure water cannon, and there is space (fitted for but not with) for converting the patrol vessel into a full fledged missile corvette armed with Hsiung Feng II and/or Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missiles. The conversion could be made rapidly, if needed, during wartime. Hsiung Feng II (HF-2) (雄風二型, “Brave Wind II”) is a subsonic anti-ship missile with a range of 160 km (250 km for the block II variant). Hsiung Feng III (HF-3; 雄風三型, “Brave Wind III”) is a supersonic anti-ship missile (with some land attack capability) with a range of 200 km (400 km for a future enhanced variant).
The design of the new patrol vessel is based on the Taiwanese Navy (ROC Navy)’s Tuo-chiang class missile corvettes. Anping will be delivered to the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) in October, two months ahead of schedule. It will join the CGA Southern Sector Flotilla.
Future CGA Fleet
CGA has a programme to build 141 coast guard ships from 2018 to 2027. The programme includes four 4000-ton class patrol vessels, six 1000-ton class patrol vessels, twelve 600-ton class patrol vessels, seventeen 100-ton class patrol boats, fifty-two 35-ton class patrol boats and fifty littoral utility boats. Taiwanese media also reported that the CGA is considering to establish aviation units, and have sent a report on this issue to the parliament in April.
Ocean Affairs Council (OAC) officials said that the shipbuilding programme will bring prosperity to local shipbuilding companies and related industries, and is considered to create at least 8000 jobs and make the industry have 100 billion NTD value. However, there are still challenges for Taiwan to develop its defense economics.
OAC and CGA
The early coastal and maritime law enforcement agencies of Taiwan (ROC) were the Coast Guard Command (formerly under the Ministry of National Defense), the Marine Police Bureau (formerly under the National Police Agency, Ministry of Interior), and ships from the Customs Administration, Ministry of Finance. Coast Guard Administration (CGA) was established under Executive Yuan (cabinet) on 1 February 2000, and unified these agencies.
CGA currently has a 156 ship fleet. Its coastal patrol units stationed in Pratas and Spratly Islands are heavily armed, Personnel of these units are trained by the marine corps and army artillery training command.
On 28 April 2018, Ocean Affairs Council (OCA) was founded under Executive Yuan, and CGA became a part of the OCA organization. The OCA is in charge of the planning, coordination and implementation of marine-related policies of Taiwan.