TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Two Perry-class guided missile frigates purchased from the U.S. during the Obama administration will be ready for active duty in November, announced Vice Admiral Lee Chung-hsiao (李宗孝) today.
In a response to a question posed by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) about the date when two Perry-class guided missile frigates would be ready for service and what improvement they would represent for the military's combat readiness, Lee said training for both vessels is expected to be completed by November of this year and that they will greatly enhance Taiwan's anti-submarine capabilities.
Lee said that PFG-1115 Ming Chuan (銘傳) and PFG-1112 Feng Chia (逢甲) are expected to formally enter the Navy after completing training in November. Lee said that the two newly acquired warships will greatly increase the Navy's anti-submarine capabilities in comparison with the domestically-built Cheng Kung-class frigates, and will have a greater deterrent effect on Chinese submarines.
The USS Gary (Photo from the USS Gary Facebook account).
The frigates started serving in the U.S. Navy in the 1980s under the names of USS Gary and USS Taylor. Early last year, the State Department approved the sale to Taiwan for a total of US$190 million (NT$5.75 billion). VSE Corporation was awarded the US$74 million (NT$2.24 billion) contract to refurbish the ships for their use by Taiwan. Last March, top military officials and Taipei’s representative in the U.S., Stanley Kao (高碩泰), attended a ceremony in Charleston, South Carolina, marking the transfer of the frigates to Taiwan.
In May of last year, the two vessels arrived at Kaohsiung Zuoying Naval Base from Hawaii. They are each equipped with the SQQ-89 undersea warfare combat system the SQR-19 sonar system, the latter of which can detect and provide details about submarines in a range of more than 120 kilometers.
The two ships will eventually join the Taiwan Navy's 146th fleet guarding Penghu in the middle of the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China.
Perry-class Feng Chia frigate in foreground. (CNA image)
The Feng Chia is named after Chiu Feng-chia (丘逢甲), a militia leader who played a role in the resistance against the Japanese after they took over Taiwan in 1895, while the Ming Chuan is named after Liu Ming-chuan (劉銘傳), the modernizing governor of Taiwan under the Qing Dynasty in the 19th century.
Just as Taiwan is refurbishing the frigates for military service, the U.S. Navy decommissioned the last of its Perry-class frigates in 2015 and one was spared on Sept. 20 from being sunk from a live-fire exercise. Rather than obliterating them or letting them rust, some have proposed selling more of them to allies to refurbish at low cost.
In fact, Secretary of Navy Richard Spencer was cited by USNI News as saying that to make them seaworthy again, Taiwan only spent US$35,000 per ship, which is about one sixth the price of a full tank of gas for the type.