Navy Taiwan Lays Keel Of New IDS Submarine For ROC Navy

Isa Khan

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Xavier Vavasseur story with additional reporting by Tso Juei Hsu.

While several local news outlets are mentioning the ceremony took place this morning at the CSBC shipyard in Kaohsiung, pictures of the event are yet to be released. Pictures may never be released because of the high level of secrecy and strategic nature of the IDS project.

Local media LTN reported that the shipyard gave the first IDS the factory number “1168”. Pronunciation of 168 in mandarin Chinese, is similar to 一路發 (making money all the way), the number is believed to be a lucky number in Taiwan.

Construction work on IDS started almost exactly one year ago in presence of President Tsai Ing-wen. The Taiwanese President did not attend the keel laying ceremony.

ROC Navy Commander Liu Chi-bin said today during the keel laying ceremony:

The project team is paying attention to construction safety and confidentiality throughout the process. I hope the first submarine will be completed on schedule to meet the expectations and support of the president and the people.

As we previously reported, the IDS will be armed with MK-48 Mod 6 Advanced Technology heavyweight torpedoes, UGM-84L sub-launched Harpoon Block II missiles, and other combat and digital sonar systems provided by US suppliers Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, Taiwanese naval officials said. Senior military officers told local media that the submarine will be fitted with ‘high-efficiency batteries developed and produced by domestic manufacturers” instead of an Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system. This most likely refers to the use of Lithium Ion battery technology.

About Taiwan’s Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) Project​

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The ROC Navy and local shipyard China Shipbuilding Corporation (CSBC) signed a construction contract for a prototype submarine as part of the Indigenous Defense Submarine project (IDS) in May 2019. According to the initial schedule, the design of the prototype will be completed by the end of the year and its delivery to the ROC Navy is expected for 2025.

According to Covert Shores, the new design builds on the Hai Lung class, keeping a similar form but deviating notably by X-form rudders and a more contemporary sail. This implies that it will be double-hulled with a relatively conventional internal arrangement.

The new design appears to be based on the Dutch design heritage, which makes sense as Taiwan operates two Dutch designed boats. The fitting of new battery technologies, probably lithium-ion, will put the design into the upper tier of non-nuclear submarines. Other countries are also building submarines with these battery technologies, notably Japan, South Korea and Italy. Navies have been slow to adopt lithium-ion batteries for submarines due to safety concerns, They are too prone to fire. Countries which are pushing ahead with this technology however believe that they have solved this problem. For Taiwan, coming in fresh, this may be a fresh challenge however.


H I Sutton from Covert Shores.

 

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A very good article on the matter of Taiwan's submarine program, and on the cooperation its receiving by its friends (and China's potential enemies):


"Taipei’s chief foreign weapons supplier, the United States, has provided key technology, including combat-system components and sonars. But assistance is coming from far beyond America.

Defense companies from the United Kingdom, which like America operates a fleet of nuclear-powered ballistic missile and attack submarines, have provided crucial support.

A veteran of Britain’s Royal Navy submarine fleet, retired Commodore Ian McGhie, was a key figure in the drive to recruit submarine expertise, according to a person familiar with his role. McGhie helped a Gibraltar-based company hire engineers including former Royal Navy sailors, the person said.

Britain also has approved multiple export licences in the past three years for UK companies to supply submarine components, technology or software to Taiwan, according to information from the Department for International Trade obtained via a Freedom of Information request. The value of submarine technologies approved for export from the UK to Taiwan has grown exponentially in recent years, government data analyzed by Reuters shows.

Taipei also succeeded in hiring engineers, technicians and former naval officers from at least five other countries: Australia, South Korea, India, Spain and Canada. Based at a shipyard in the port city of Kaohsiung, the experts have advised the Taiwanese navy and state-backed shipbuilder CSBC Corporation Taiwan, the company building the new submarines. "

+++

"For now, the multinational effort is holding. A person in Taipei with knowledge of the project likened it to the Japanese folktale Momotaro, in which a lone boy gets help from a group of unlikely allies – a dog, a monkey and a pheasant – to defeat a terrifying demon.

“We all gathered together to defeat the demon,” the person said."

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