MND cites obstacles to self-built submarines

By Joseph Yeh,The China Post

The government-owned shipbuilding company CSBC Corp., Taiwan will have to deal with three major challenges before it can start to build locally-developed submarine, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday. “The CSBC Corp., Taiwan has to acquire submarine-building blueprints, key equipment and weapons systems, together with adequate professional techniques, if it wants to build submarines,” said Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu yesterday in the Legislative Yuan. If the government-owned shipbuilder can accomplish these tasks, the MND is more than happy to cooperate with the company in building submarines for the nation, Kao said during a question-and-answer session when asked by several lawmakers to comment on the issue. Fielding questions at the same legislative session, CSBC Corp., Taiwan Chairman Tang Tay-ping (譚泰平), expressed confidence in his company to build the first Taiwan-made submarine as long as the government can help the firm obtain these key technologies as well as offer financial support. “We are confident and absolutely capable of being able to build the body of a submarine with our current capability,” Tang said. But efforts need to be made by the government to acquire some key equipment and weaponry systems from overseas for the shipbuilder to design a submarine, he added.

The feasibility of building diesel-electric submarines locally has been a hotly debated question in Taiwan over the years after the U.S. shelved the government’s procurement request.

In 2001, the U.S. proposed the sale of eight diesel-powered submarines to Taiwan but the administration of George W. Bush did not follow through on the proposal. No significant progress has been made so far. Main Option is Buying Subs from US: Kao

Speaking at yesterday’s session, Kao said his ministry still considers the U.S. as the main source for the country to acquire submarines.

The MND will see the possible building of submarines by the CSBC as an “alternative option” if the local shipbuilder can overcome all obstacles to meet its goal, he noted. The ministry also has to consider which option — building its own submarines or simply buying them from foreign countries — is more cost effective, Kao said.

The minister said Taiwan is in desperate need for new submarines in order to serve as deterrents at sea. Currently only four decades-old submarines are in active service in Taiwan: two Dutch-built submarines from the 1980s, and two U.S. Guppy-class submarines built during World War II, according to the MND.