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Taiwan launches first Indigenous Defense Submarine 'Narwhal'

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Taiwan's first Indigenous Defense Submarine "Narwhal" is on display at a ceremony in Kaohsiung Thursday. CNA photo Sept. 28, 2023

Kaohsiung, Sept. 28 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Thursday presided over the launch of Taiwan's first Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) "Narwhal" at a ceremony in Kaohsiung and labeled the event a crucial moment in Taiwan's mission to produce domestic subs and achieve "defense autonomy."

The ceremony was conducted at a CSBC Corp., Taiwan shipyard, the contractor for the IDS project.

"Today will go down in history," Tsai said in her remarks.

Building an IDS used to be considered "mission impossible," but it is now a reality, the president added.

Noting that submarines are crucial in the Navy's efforts to develop asymmetric combat capabilities and other key strategies, Tsai hailed the occasion as a landmark in the country's bid to achieve "defense autonomy."

The IDS prototype has the pennant number "711" and an X-shaped rudder, instead of the cross-shaped rudder seen on previous models, which according to CSBC Corp., Taiwan Chairman Cheng Wen-lon (鄭文隆), gives it an edge over Taiwan's other submarines in active service.

Also in attendance at the ceremony were Huang Shu-kuang (黃曙光), convener of the IDS program, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Sandra Oudkirk, Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正), and Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁).

At the ceremony, only the bow of the submarine was exposed, with the torpedo tubes and other critical components covered with a Republic of China (Taiwan) flag.

Huang said on Sept. 25 that after Thursday's ceremony, the IDS prototype will undergo a harbor acceptance test on Oct. 1, followed by a sea acceptance test, and hopefully be delivered to the Navy before the end of 2024.

The IDS program also aims to build another submarine by 2027.

Both subs will be deployed to defend the waters around Taiwan and the area from Suao in Yilan to Yonaguni Island in Japan's Okinawa Prefecture, Huang said.

The building of the domestic submarines means Taiwan's Navy will have a total of three combat-ready submarines by 2025 and four by 2027, including two existing Chien Lung-class (Sword Dragon) subs bought from the Netherlands in the 1980s.

Taiwan also has two World War II vintage subs purchased from the United States in the 1970s, but they are now used for training purposes only.

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