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Navy stages anti-sub drill to test readiness

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's Navy yesterday mobilized more than 20 military vessels and aircraft to take part in an anti-submarine exercise in waters off Southern Taiwan to test the military's combat capabilities ahead of the upcoming Lunar New Year break later this month.

The drill, which was open to the media and held in waters about 10 nautical miles from southern Kaohsiung city's Tsoying Naval Base, simulated a submarine attack launched by invading enemy forces.

In response to the simulated threat, the Navy immediately dispatched its fleet from the naval base to counter invading forces.

Two retrofitted U.S.-made coastal minehunters were deployed to keep the sea free of mines, and two Chengkung-class frigates, one of them with a S-70C anti-submarine helicopter aboard, were also deployed to participate in the drill.

Taiwan received the two minehunters in August 2012, significantly boosting the nation's mine-hunting capabilities.

Aside from the U.S-imported minehunters, Kuang Hua VI fast attack missile boats, Cheng Kung-class and Kang Ding-class frigates were also mobilized to counter the potential submarine attack.

The high point of the drill came when the helicopter on the Chengkung-class frigate and another S-70C at the naval base were dispatched to locate the enemy submarine, followed by a Chingchiang-class patrol vessel's simulated deployment of a depth charge to force the submarine to the surface.

The submarine was finally pushed to the surface, concluding the drill.

Naval officials said the exercise was held to test the military's efforts to stay alert and remain combat-ready before the Lunar New Year holiday that will run from Jan. 30 to Feb. 4.

Another highlight of yesterday's exercise was female Navy officer Tung Shu-wen (董舒雯) aboard the La Fayette-class Di Hua frigate (迪化艦).

Tung, a gunnery officer on the vessel, is in charge of the care and maintenance of the battery, ordnance material and ammunition of the warship, and she directs the gunnery training of the crew. She is one of three female military personnel stationed on the vessel.

Two-day Media Tour

The anti-submarine drill concluded a two-day media tour that took reporters to Ching Chuan Kang air base (清泉崗空軍基地) in Taichung on Monday, during which Taiwan's Air Force displayed its ability to quickly repair damaged airport runways following an air strike during an exercise.

Later on Monday, reporters enjoyed a tour at an Army base at the southern county of Pingtung to witness new initiatives implemented at military facilities that allow soldiers to use smartphones and enjoy improved accommodations, in a bid to boost sluggish voluntary recruitment.

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A La Fayette-class frigate conducts a military exercise yesterday. The military concluded its three-day exercise at the last stop of Zuoying navy base yesterday. Helicopters also participated in the training to practice air and sea coordination when faced with an opposing naval force.

(CNA)



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