Taiwan commissions 20,000-tonne combat support ship

8:16:00 AM
TAIPEI, -- The Republic of China Navy (RoCN) took delivery on 23 January of a newly completed fast combat support ship.

Panshih was built by state-owned Kaohsiung-based shipbuilder CSBC Corporation at a cost of USD130 million. Construction began in 2011 and the ship was launched in 2013.

According to the Ministry of National Defense (MND), Panshih is a multirole vessel and will be used as a transport, maritime rescue, and humanitarian assistance vessel.

Defence officials say the navy will begin training personnel this month and that the vessel will enter full operational service by March.

Panshih is 196 m long and 25.2 m wide and has a full load displacement of 20,000 tonnes. It can carry a crew of up to 165 and has a range of 8,000 n miles. Prior to its delivery, the RoCN had only one operational supply ship, Wuyi , which entered service in 1990.

The MND has not said what armaments Panshih will carry, but IHS Jane's Fighting Ships notes that it is armed with an Oto Melara 76 mm gun, two Raytheon Vulcan Phalanx 20 mm close-in weapon systems, two Rheinmetall Millennium 35 mm guns, and two 30 mm machine guns. Wuyi is equipped with one Bofors dual 40 mm/70 anti-aircraft cannon and two T-75 20 mm anti-aircraft guns.

Delivery of Panshih comes as Taiwan's government looks to invest heavily in the RoCN as a means of boosting the island's defence capabilities.

The Ministry of National Defense took delivery of the island's first indigenous Tuo Jiang-class missile corvette earlier in January, and the government approved a USD94.46 million four-year design contract for an indigenous submarine in December 2014.

The government increased its 2015 defence budget to USD10.7 billion, a 2.6% rise from 2014. Prior to that increase, the island's defence budget had been in decline since 2009.

The budget was passed by a legislature forced to take a more bipartisan stance on defence spending and production of indigenous weapons systems, as the island faces both a growing threat from China's fast modernising military and current US government opposition to the sale of advanced weapons platforms to Taiwan.

A screen grab from a Republic of China Navy video showing fast combat support ship Panshih on sea trials. 



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