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Navy denies US frigate damage will affect procurement project

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The R.O.C. Navy yesterday denied that the recent incident in which a United States Navy Perry-class frigate was reportedly damaged during a mission in Europe could affect the nation's procurement project.

The Taiwan military announced last November that it is scheduled to receive its first batch of two Perry-class frigates out of a four-vessel order from the U.S. in 2015 to replace its existing fleet of aging frigates.

U.S. media reports released Tuesday, however, said USS Taylor, one of the four frigates that the U.S. is scheduled to sell Taiwan, has run aground in Turkey last week.

The guided-missile frigate USS Taylor, one of two ships on deployment in the Black Sea, is being inspected for damage after running aground last week as it was preparing to moor in Samsun, Turkey, U.S. media quoted a statement from U.S. Naval Forces Europe released Tuesday as saying.

The incident occurred as the Taylor was preparing to moor in Samsun, Turkey, according to the statement. "Taylor was able to moor without further incident."

The ship suffered some damage to the propellers and a minor spill of about 176 gallons of fuel, according to a report from ABC News.

There were no reported injuries, and the incident is currently under investigation, the U.S. Navy said. The Taylor is currently on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.

Asked to comment, an unidentified Taiwanese Navy official told local media that the Navy Command has learned the news. The official stressed that the incident should not affect Taiwan's procurement project for four Perry-class frigates.

Washington has not made it official which four frigates it plans to sell to Taipei, so the damaged vessel may not be the one that will join the R.O.C. Navy in the future, the official said.

Also, Taiwan has confidence in the U.S. military's reputation to guarantee the quality of armaments and weaponry systems it sells to Taiwan.

The R.O.C. Navy will contact its American counterparts to learn the latest developments in the incident, the official said.

The MND previously said it has allocated NT$5.2 billion in defense spending to buy two frigates from the U.S.

The R.O.C. Navy currently operates eight U.S.-made Knox-class frigates that were built in the 1960s and later transferred to Taiwan in the 1990s.

This class of frigates was later designated as the Chi-Yang class (濟陽級) and assigned to the Navy's Yilan-based 168th Patrol Squadron.

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