The Republic of China Navy (ROCN) commissioned two new rapid minelaying boats at Zuoying Naval Base in Kaohsiung city on Friday.
The two boats were delivered in late 2021 but were put into active service on January 14. They will form the first and second Mine Boat Squadrons of the Navy’s 192nd Fleet (Minesweeper Fleet).
The Navy had allocated $33.22 million from 2017-2021 for the construction of four minelaying ships. These are being built by Taiwanese manufacturer Lungteh Shipbuilding.
Each ship is 41m long and 8.8m wide, and has a draft of 1.607m with a full-load displacement of 315 tonnes. It comes armed with a T-75 20mm cannon on the bow, and a T-74 7.62mm machine gun and three mine-laying tracks on each side. The ship is equipped with an automatic mine-laying system developed by the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology.
The ROCN previously placed mines in the sea using landing ships, but that was not efficient and also potentially dangerous in choppy waters, President Tsai Ing-wen said during the commissioning ceremony. “Proud to witness the commissioning of our Navy's first dedicated minelayer squadrons. These domestically-built fast minelayers mark yet another step forward for Taiwan's own defense industry & will further strengthen our readiness & resilience in the face of evolving threats,” she said.
Institute for National Defense and Security Research analyst Su Tzu-yun was quoted as saying by local media that mines are “cheap and highly effective denial weapons” that can disrupt an enemy’s advance and force their vessels to alter planned routes. They can be also used in conjunction with anti-ship missiles to strengthen the country’s defense.