By Joseph Yeh, The China Post
TAIPEI, Taiwan — A senior R.O.C. naval officer yesterday expressed hopes of obtaining submarines from the United States to beef up the defensive capabilities of the nation’s armed forces. Naval Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Huang Shu-kuang (黃曙光) yesterday told reporters that Taiwan is in need of new submarines, either through the U.S. granting diesel submarine sales or by building its own, so that it can better defend itself against possible Chinese invasion. “As a country surrounded by sea on all sides, sea lanes are Taiwan’s lifeline,” Huang said. Maintaining capable self-defense capabilities is crucial in response to potential military threats from the sea, he added. The Navy is now upgrading its two existing submarines to beef up its combat ability. However, Taiwan’s military is still in need of acquiring new and more advanced submarines in response to China’s growing military prowess, he added. Huang made the remarks when asked to comment on the submarine issue at the conclusion of a live-fire maritime exercise held in waters off Eastern Taiwan as part of the annual Han Kuang series of military exercises. Currently four 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.
Taiwan has been asking the U.S. to sell it diesel-powered submarines for more than a decade in the hope of replacing the decades-old subs. In 2001, the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush offered to provide eight diesel-electric submarines. But so far, no significant progress toward the sale has been made. Possibly shedding light on the issue, U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert confirmed last week in Washington that Taiwan and the U.S. recently discussed the latter’s efforts to acquire submarines from the U.S. or build its own submarines. Asked to comment on the submarine issue, military spokesman Luo Shao-he said earlier this month that Taiwan has been pushing the U.S. to sell it diesel-powered submarines for some time, but Washington has yet to make a final decision. The military is also weighing other options, including studying the feasibility of building diesel-electric submarines itself, but it needs technical assistance from the U.S., Luo added.