TWO KIDD-CLASS DESTROYERS ARRIVE AT SUAO NAVAL BASE FROM THE U.S.
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, Dec. 8 (CNA) Two of the four Kidd-class destroyers that Taiwan purchased from the United States in 2003 arrived at the northeastern military base of Suao Thursday.
Republic of China Navy Commander-in-Chief Adm. Chen Pang-chih directed the whole port-entrance maneuvering of the two destroyers, named the Keelung and the Suao, which were delivered to the ROC Navy Oct. 29 from a shipyard in Charleston, South Carolina.
President Chen Shui-bian is expected to travel to Suao in mid-December to officiate at a ceremony marking the commissioning of the two destroyers in his capacity as the commander-in-chief of the ROC armed forces.
Navy officers and seed instructors, as well as repair and maintenance technicians have received training in the United States to prepare for the delivery of the two de-mothballed destroyers, which have also undergone sea trials and weaponry systems tests over the past month, the navy authorities said.
The other two destroyers are expected by March 2007.
Taiwan purchased the four then-mothballed destroyers, built in the late 1970s, at a cost of NT$24 billion (US$0.73 billion) in June 2003.
The navy authorities said that after the two Kidd-class destroyers are commissioned, they will form the outer periphery of a naval defensive fleet, while the Perry-class, Knox-class and Lafayette-class frigates will play an inner circle role.
The Kidd-class destroyers will target enemy planes that have fired missiles, allowing other vessels to deal with the incoming missiles, they said.
Taiwan submitted a shopping list in 2001 that included top-of-the-line U.S. destroyers of the Arleigh Burke-class equipped with the Aegis radar system, but the Bush administration later approved the sale of only the much older Kidd-class destroyers.
The purchase was embroiled in a fierce debate. Opponents of the purchase included members of the legislature's powerful defense committee, which made several attempts to block the sale. Critics cited the age of the ships and their high cost and suggested that Taiwan should push the U.S. to release the Aegis system sooner.
(By Deborah Kuo)
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