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Taiwan Unveils First Coast Guard Vessel That ‘Converts’ Into Warship

The 4,000-ton patrol vessel Chiayi is said to be capable of converting into a military or medical ship.

On Thursday, Taiwan commissioned its first coast guard vessel that can be converted into a warship to counter the growing threat from China.

The 4,000-ton patrol vessel Chiayi, the coast guard’s largest ship, is said to be capable of converting into a military or medical ship, as it is equipped with advanced medical facilities such as an operating theater and isolation wards.

The 2.8 billion New Taiwan dollar ($100.4 million) frigate was delivered by Taiwanese CSBC Corp. at a ceremony in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan. It is the first in the fleet to be printed with the word “Taiwan,” which Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said will distinguish it from Chinese vessels and demonstrate the country’s determination to defend its territory.

“I believe, after the delivery, training and commissioning of Chiayi as well as the completion of other relevant shipbuilding projects, the coast guard will be able to bolster its patrol capacity while ensuring the safety of law enforcement officials,” Tsai said at the ceremony.

Bolstering Maritime Defense

The vessel is fitted with three high-pressure water cannons with a range of 120 meters (394 feet) to counter illegal Chinese fishing boats and sand dredgers that operate in Taiwanese waters. 

It also has a multiple rocket launcher system and two 50-caliber machine guns to enhance Taiwan’s defense, especially in the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands and Taiping Island in the South China Sea, where Beijing is staging drills and simulating a takeover of the islands.

Chiayi is one of four 4,000-ton coast guard patrol ships to be built by CSBC at a total cost of 11.74 billion New Taiwan dollar ($392 million). Another 4,000-ton coast guard patrol ship “Hsinchu” was also launched on Thursday at the ceremony.

CSBC was also commissioned to build 15 100-ton vessels, five of which are already in service, and six 1,000-ton patrol vessels that are currently under construction.

Two weeks ago, the Taiwanese Navy launched its first locally-built amphibious assault vessel, Yushan, which is expected to go into service next year.

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