Taiwan commissioned new navy minelayers on Friday to bolster its defenses against colossal rival China.
President Tsai Ing-wen presided over a ceremony commissioning the navy’s First and Second Mining Operations Squadrons, which will operate ships capable of automatically sowing large numbers of small but powerful mines at high speeds without the use of divers.
These technologies are part of a strategy to ward off any possible invasion by China, which possesses a massive army and vast numerical superiority in warplanes, ships, and other weaponry.
China claims Taiwan as its own territory and has ratcheted up its threat to seize it militarily if necessary, by conducting frequent military exercises and dispatching fighter jets and other aircraft to fly close to the island.
The initial order of four ships from Lungteh Shipbuilding is part of Tsai’s effort to revitalize the domestic arms industry and reduce Taiwan’s reliance on the US for defensive weapons. Additionally, Lungteh manufactures missile corvettes, patrol boats, and other vessels for the Taiwanese armed forces and police, as well as civilian vessels.
Taiwan’s Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology developed the automatic mine laying system.
The ships strengthen the navy’s “protection of our waters,” Tsai said during the ceremony. Their commissioning “demonstrated the indigenous defense industry’s fruits and demonstrated to the world our resolve to defend our country,” she said.
Lt. Hsu Shu-wei of the Second Mining Operations Squadron stated that the new technology’s sole purpose was to “increase our asymmetric warfare capability.”
“Our target is to deter the enemy from getting on our island,” Hsu said.