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Taiwan President Announces Start of Domestic Submarine Program

The president of Taiwan announced the start of a domestic submarine program in a Tuesday ceremony, according to local press reports.

President Tsai Ing-wen made the announcement at a Republic of China naval base and signed, “a procurement contract and memorandum of understanding on cooperation between local shipbuilder CSBC Corp., Taiwan, the navy, and the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology,” according to Kyodo News.

In December, CSBC won an $80 million design contract for the first of a new class of domestic diesel-electric submarines (SSK) after the U.S. failed to make good on a 2001 George W. Bush administration promise to develop a conventional attack boat.

Additional attempts by Taipei to buy a conventional submarine from other countries have been thwarted by a litany of threats from China. Beijing takes a hard line at any country that supplies arms to what they consider their own territory. While the U.S. regularly sells arms to Taipei, the fear of any inadvertent submarine technology transfer to Beijing has caused the Pentagon to drag its feet on aiding the Taiwan SSK effort, USNI News understands.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen

“Strengthening underwater combat capabilities is most needed in Taiwan’s defense,” Tsai said during a tour of a submarine at the southern naval port of Zuoying, reported Voice of America.
“This is a problem everyone recognizes. We have been unable to solve this in the past. As commander of the armed forces, I am determined to solve this problem.”

Taiwan’s existing submarine force is badly dated and a modern attack boat is a key defense priority for RoC military that is built to repel an amphibious invasion from mainland China.

Military leaders have told Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan they need four boats.

“At present, the navy’s demand is submarines ranging from 1,200-3,000 tons,” Vice Adm. Hsiao Wei-min with the Republic of China Navy said in 2015.

Currently, the RoC Navy fields two Dutch-built, 1980s vintage 2,600-ton Hai-lang-class SSKs and two World War II-era U.S. Guppy-class boats used for training.

Taiwan estimates the process will take ten years for the first attack boat to be ready – four for design, four for construction and two additional years of testing.

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    Such a shame that the noble Germans were delighted to sell their SSK tech to the Beijing dictatorship but no one will assist the democracy in Taipei in building a submarine.

    • Secundius

      Not Quite? Your forgetting the “Gotland” Reversed-Engineered Plans given (SOLD) by the Co-President of the 43rd President to Taiwan. To “Help” them build an “Indigenous Design” Swedish Style…

      • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

        How many were built?

        • Secundius

          According “Associated Press”. NCSIST (National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology), formally CSBC (China Shipbuilding Corporation) is Overseeing Construction of “One” at the Tsoying Naval Base, Zuoying District, Koahsiung City, Taiwan, Republic of China…

  • Aussie Andrew

    This is great news; by the time they are finished they will be inducted into President Xi’s Navy.

  • RobM1981

    Piece of cake. How hard can designing and constructing a modern, effective SSK be?

    • E1 Kabong

      Quite difficult.

      Ask the Indians….

  • John B. Morgen

    Give the Taiwanese enough time to build their own submarines (SS), and who knows if American/European submarines plans are being smuggled into Taiwan to copy.

  • SierraSierraQuebec

    As much as a manned conventional submarine would be better, given the short and well defined area of operation, a combination of underwater drones and aerial torpedoes would prove much cheaper, faster, and easier for China to acquire to defend against the provincial communist dictatorships to the north.

    • E1 Kabong



      Keep dreaming, kiddo.

      • SierraSierraQuebec

        The Strait of Taiwan is only a hundred miles wide, low speed drones with any number of communication link types backed up by land based modern torpedoes the energetic propellants of which can drive them in the air (with the appropriate winglets and aeropropulsors) ten times farther and faster, would not only be capable of obliterating an invasion force, but it would all take a fraction of the time and cost to build than some theoretical submarine force that will take decades to assemble (at which point technology may well have rendered this approach obsolete as well). No dreaming, just hard physics and hard economics.

        • E1 Kabong


          What’s CURRENTLY in service?

          Just common sense….