New coast guard ship to launch later March: report

By Joseph Yeh, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — A new 2,000-ton class patrol vessel will officially join the Coast Guard Administration’s (CGA) fleet later this month, tasked with patrolling waters near the Diaoyutai Islands, sources told a local newspaper yesterday. The vessel, called Hsin Bei (新北艦), meaning New Taipei, will join the fleet during a commissioning ceremony to be held at a Kaohsiung port, sources told the Chinese-language United Evening News yesterday. The Hsin Bei will be the first armed CGA vessel equipped with 40-mm cannons. President Ma Ying-jeou and New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) will be invited to attend the ceremony, the report said. Ma is scheduled to board the vessel to sail near the Diaoyutais seas in the East China Sea to preside over a drill, it noted. The vessel will be responsible for conducting patrol operations on Taiwan’s side of the temporary law enforcement line with Japan near the Diaoyutais around the clock to protect Taiwanese fishermen operating in the disputed area.

The CGA also plans to hold a series of live-fire drills in seas south of Kaohsiung on Wednesday and Thursday, featuring the Hsih Bei for the first time, the report said. Meanwhile, speaking during a question-and-answer session in the Legislative Yuan yesterday, CGA Minister Wang Ginn-wang (王進旺) said a construction project to build a CGA base in Taipei Harbor will be proposed later this year. Once completed, the base will serve as the CGA’s Northern Taiwan headquarters and will be responsible for the coast guard’s operations in waters off the island’s north side area, he said.