TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Taiwan’s Goodwill Fleet will not dock in its allies’ harbors for the first time ever, reports said Tuesday (Jan. 12).
Last April, 36 sailors on board the Navy’s fleet tested positive for the virus after a visit to the Pacific island nation of Palau, though no cases were reported there.
In order to avoid infections, this year the fleet will stay away from ports in other countries, though it will sail out to sea for drills, CNA reported. The ships’ journey will also be shorter than before, though the precise itinerary and schedule are still being discussed.
The chief aim of the annual Goodwill Fleet program was to familiarize fresh recruits with life at sea and with the basic operations of the Navy, so the exercises would not be abolished, military sources told CNA.
Secondary aims were to strengthen friendly relations with Taiwan’s allies and to rehearse for the eventual evacuation of Taiwanese citizens from other countries.