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An ambitious future planned for defense shipbuilding in Taiwan

The government has a slew of new projects aimed at invigorating the domestic industry: Legislator Liu Shyh-Fang

The domestically produced Panshi Fast Combat Support Ship (Image: 2014 from Navy Recognition)

The domestically produced Panshi Fast Combat Support Ship (Image: 2014 from Navy Recognition)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – One of the key strategic areas discussed at the Taiwan-U.S. Defense Business Forum in Kaohsiung on May 10 was Taiwan's shipbuilding industry.

During the talks Liu Shyh-Fang (劉世芳), a legislator representing Kaohsiung, briefly outlined the current state of defense-related ship building in Taiwan. Likewise, a representative from Lockheed Martin Robert J. Laing, shared some insights and considerations for the future of the industry.

Liu noted that Kaohsiung is the heart of Taiwan's domestic ship building industry, with nearly 80 percent of the ship construction projects taking place in the southern city's shipyards.

The Ocean Affairs Council (OAC) that was established in Kaohsiung in late April, as the first ministry level government agency to be headquartered outside of Taipei reflects the importance of the city with regard to maritime affairs, including shipbuilding.

There has been a bit of recent buzz concerning shipbuilding in Taiwan following the news that the country will be able to begin constructing its own submarines domestically, and the successful completion and approval for the CSBC corporation to begin constructing an amphibious transport ship for the Taiwan Navy.

In addition to all of these projects, Liu also announced that six 1,000 ton patrol vessels would soon be under construction in Taiwan to supplement the country's Coast Guard fleet. There are also plans to invest in a new frigate, a high-speed mine-layer and new corvettes for the Navy.

An ambitious future planned for defense shipbuilding in Taiwan
The Kaohsiung CG129 Coast Guard Patrol Vessel (Image from Taiwan Coast Guard)

Liu emphasized that the goals for Taiwanese shipbuilding were not simply to flood the industry with a large amount of projects all at once, but rather the government hopes to create a stable supply of continuous projects moving forward, to invigorate and expand domestic shipbuilding capabilities steadily over time.

Liu noted that Taiwan possesses the strengths of having experience in domestic defense projects like the IDF fighter jets, and the “5+2” industrial innovation policy of the Tsai administration, which specifically seeks to innovate and increase the efficiency of the domestic defense supply chain.

Taiwan does face some obstacles like a rigid procurement process for construction components because of existing legislation. Liu noted that a lack of human resources and talent are also a problem affecting the domestic ship-buidling industry, however with the comprehensive innovation policy, Liu is optimistic that these challenges can be overcome.

Robert Laing, representing Lockheed Martin, said that the U.S. is now returning to a policy of global competition in the defense industry, and that maritime technology, both traditional ship-building and the integration of new defense technologies, will become an important focus of the U.S. defense industry moving forward.

In light of this, Laing noted that with Taiwan's anticipated investment in its own ship building initiatives, the possibility for mutually beneficial cooperation between the U.S. and Taiwan “has never been better.”

Laing also suggested that Taiwan's domestic ship-building industries might be integrated into the government's New Southbound Policy moving forward, creating important industry links and exchanges between Taiwan and the nations of Southeast Asia. With properly developed policies, and an increased capacity for the production of quality ships, Taiwan may be uniquely capable of acting as a manufacturing hub, to meet the maritime needs of her neighbors in the Indo-Pacific.

Updated : 2022-05-24 17:59 GMT+08:00