Commissioned as part of the island’s first two minelaying squadrons, the two new minelayers will automatically lay large numbers of small but powerful sea mines without the need for divers.
According to vessel producer Lungteh Shipbuilding, each minelayer is 41 meters (134 feet) long and 8.8 meters (28 feet) wide. It also has a reported full-load displacement of 347 tons.
The ships are armed with T-75 20-millimeter cannons, T-74 7.62-millimeter machine guns, and three mine-laying tracks. They are also equipped with an automatic mine-laying system developed by the National Chung-shan Institute of Science and Technology.
From 2017 to 2021, the Taiwanese Navy allocated $33 million to build four fast minelaying ships to enhance its maritime defense around the island.
The deployment of new minelaying ships comes more than a month after the Chinese military conducted island-bombing and mine-laying exercises in the South China Sea near Taiwanese territorial waters.
Proud to witness the commissioning of our Navy's first dedicated minelayer squadrons. These domestically-built fast minelayers mark yet another step forward for #Taiwan's own defense industry & will further strengthen our readiness & resilience in the face of evolving threats. pic.twitter.com/cWuPWge5Pg
— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) January 14, 2022
Bolstering Mission Efficiency, Accuracy
At a commissioning ceremony last week, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen explained that the deployment of two minelaying ships marks a notable achievement in Taiwan’s defense sector.
She also stressed that commissioning important sea assets reflects its commitment to safeguarding its maritime territory.
“These are the first minelaying squadrons established by the Republic of China Navy,” Tsai said, as quoted by Focus Taiwan. “I am very glad we have been able to witness this important moment together.”
Tsai further stated that Taiwanese navy officers often use landing ships when laying mines in the sea, saying the method is inefficient and dangerous, especially in choppy waters.
The new minelayers will enable more efficient and accurate minelaying operations, the president added.