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September 24, 2017

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Refurbished US frigate to join ROC Navy next year: report

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The United States military is scheduled to refurbish an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate that was reportedly damaged during a mission in Europe earlier this year before sending it to serve in Taiwan's navy next year, sources told local media yesterday.

The Taiwan military announced last November that it is scheduled to receive two Perry-class frigates in 2015 to replace its existing fleet of aging frigates.

U.S. media, however, reported this February that USS Taylor, one of the frigates that the U.S. is scheduled to sell Taiwan, ran aground in Turkey.

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

In response, Taiwanese lawmakers have been calling on the R.O.C. armed forces not to buy the USS Taylor as it was damaged during the incident.

Sources close to the procurement project yesterday told the Chinese-language United Daily News that Taiwan still decided to buy the USS Taylor because the U.S. has promised to refurbish the damaged vessel prior to sale.

In the wake of the incident, the R.O.C. Navy expressed its concerns over the condition of the frigate via Taiwan's military officials stationed in Washington. According to their understanding, the U.S. will not decommission the USS Taylor despite the February incident.

The warship will continue to be in service for the U.S. Navy until next year.

After it is decommissioned, the U.S. will refurbish the ship and replace its main propeller shaft and propeller blades that were damaged during the incident, sources told the newspaper.

So the running aground incident was actually "a blessing in disguise" for Taiwan's Navy because it will now receive a refurbished frigate with brand new parts, the sources said.

Taiwan Only Wants Two Frigates

Meanwhile, the sources stressed that Taiwan decided only to buy two Perry-class frigates from the U.S. despite the latter having offered to sell four.

The U.S. House of Representatives in April approved legislation paving the way for the U.S. to sell four Perry-class frigates to Taiwan.

The four frigates that offered to Taiwan were the USS Taylor (FFG-50), USS Gary (FFG-51), USS Carr (FFG-52) and USS Elrod (FFG-55).

However, Taiwan's military said it only wants the USS Taylor and the USS Gary because the USS Carr has already been decommissioned, while the combat system on the USS Elrod is outdated, the sources said.

Taiwan's military previously said it has allocated NT$5.2 billion in defense spending to buy the two frigates from the U.S.

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