(Image from CSBC Corporation)

(Image from CSBC Corporation)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – It was revealed this week during a budget committee meeting at the Legislative Yuan that the Taiwan Coast Guard’s first heavy patrol ship, which will weigh approximately 4,000 tons, has begun construction.

The SCBC Corporation expects to deliver the completed hull to the Coast Guard by late 2020, and after final equipment installations, the ship is likely to be ready for service some time in 2021. A budget report submitted this week for the year 2020 has provided ample funds for the ship’s construction.

The heavy patrol ship will be equipped with a helipad which will be able to accommodate Black Hawk helicopters (UH-60M) operated by the National Airborne Service Corps of the Ministry of Interior, as well as the Sikorsky helicopters (S-70C) operated by the Taiwan Navy. The Coast Guard development plan introduced in 2018 calls for a wide-range of new vessels to be constructed by 2027, including four of the heavy 4,000 ton patrol vessels.

In addition to the four heavy patrol vessels, the Coast Guard will also be constructing six 1,000 ton patrol vessels, twelve patrol vessels weighing 600 tons, seventeen 100 ton patrol ships, 52 light patrol vessels weighing 35 tons each, along with 50 new multi-purpose speedboats over the next few years. The expansion of Taiwan’s Coast Guard fleet is a key component of the Taiwan government’s plans to develop the domestic shipbuilding and defense industries.

The expanded fleet of Coast Guard assets is intended to act as a complement to the air force and navy, so the ships have been designed with interoperability in mind. The Taiwan Navy Command will also maintain oversight of the vessel’s construction and operational testing, reports Liberty Times.