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New Coast Guard vessel stuck in shipyard

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Coast Guard Administration's (CGA) new 3,000-ton patrol vessel is still stuck in a shipyard in the southern city of Kaohsiung, one month after the CGA officially launched the vessel, a local newspaper said yesterday.

The CGA held a ceremony at Kaohsiung on Jan. 3 when the vessel, named “Yilan,” serial number CG-128, was officially launched.

However, the largest CGA ship so far is still docked at the shipyard due to a malfunction on the shipyard's support saddles for the vessel, the Chinese-language United Evening News reported yesterday.

A CGA source told the newspaper that the serious malfunction has delayed the scheduled sea trials of the vessel.

The CGA was originally scheduled to conduct a series of tests on the ship at sea. It also planned to conduct live fire tests of the 40mm gun fire control system installed on the ship in the near future.

Due to the delay, the CGA has decided to file a legal suit against the shipbuilding company that was responsible for the construction of the vessel over violations of the deals agreed to in the contract.

It will ask the shipbuilder to pay an NT$5 million fine, the report said.

The patrol vessel has a length of 117.61 meters, a width of 15.2 meters and is designed with a helicopter flight deck capable of landing a helicopter when necessary to beef up the CGA's rescue operations in the open sea.

In addition, the CGA said yesterday that it has reached agreements with the Navy and the National Airborne Service Corps (空勤總隊) under the Interior Ministry, in which the two units have agreed to offer technical assistance to the CGA in helping the administration launch and land helicopters on the Yilan.

Yilan and Kaohsiung

According to the CGA, the vessel was named Yilan because it will be responsible for patrolling the seas off the northeastern county.

The vessel will be responsible for safeguarding R.O.C. territorial claims and fishing rights in the northern sea, including the waters near the disputed Diaoyutai Islands.

Another 3,000-ton vessel, the “Kaohsiung,” serial number CG-129, will be officially launched in March.

The Kaohsiung will be responsible for transporting supplies to Taiwan-controlled islands in the South China Sea, including the Dongsha Islands (東沙島) and Taiping Island in the Spratly island chain.

The two 3,000-ton ships were built at a total cost of NT$5.2 billion and were part of a total of 37 ships commissioned under a 10-year plan with a total budget of NT$24.07 billion in order to beef up the capacity of the CGA to enforce the law, carry out rescue operations and safeguard Taiwan's fishing rights.

After the ships enter service, the number of ships in the CGA's fleet will increase to 173, a total of 36,000 tons.

The CGA commissioned two new ships last March, including the 2,000-ton frigate “Hsinbei,” meaning New Taipei, and a 1,000-ton patrol boat, the “Hsunhu No. 8.”

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