Taiwan has unveiled its first-ever domestically built submarine in a rollout ceremony on Thursday led by President Tsai Ing-wen, who praised the large diesel-electric vessel which is officially named the “Narwhal” (loosely translated: “sea monster”).
“The submarine is an important realization of our concrete commitment in defending our country,” Tsai announced at the ceremony which was attended by hundreds of military and government personnel. “It is also important equipment for our naval forces in developing asymmetric warfare strategies.”
“In the past, many people thought building an indigenous submarine would be an impossible task. But we have made it,” she underscored. Interestingly, it was Tsai herself who was instrumental in launching plans for a first Taiwanese-built submarine back in 2016.
These broader plans include a goal of eventually having eight total domestic-built submarines, which is likely to be at least a decade or two in the future. Currently the self-ruled island’s military operates a pair of Dutch-made submarines since the 1980s.
The submarine program is seen as crucial amid a growing Chinese threat to Taiwan’s self-declared independence; however, China doesn’t appear too concerned, as CNN notes of Beijing’s response:
Asked about the new submarine at a monthly press briefing on Thursday, China’s Defense Ministry likened the vessel to “a mantis trying to stop a chariot”, invoking a common Chinese idiom.
But still, Taipei is celebrating the achievement of an “impossible task” – which Chinese officials are surely concerned by, no matter Beijing’s public brush-off of the news:
“In the past, a domestically developed submarine was considered an impossible task. But, today, a submarine designed and manufactured by our country’s people sits before our eyes,” Tsai said, adding that it would play an important role in strengthening the navy’s “asymmetric warfare” capabilities.
The Narwhal is still not expected to enter service with the navy for another two years, so by 2025 Taiwan will have a total of three active submarines patrolling its waters.
Ever since then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022, China’s PLA navy and aerial forces have greatly ramped up activity near the island, frequently breaching the Taiwan Strait ‘median line’ – as well as on a weekly basis entering its Air Defense Identification Zone.
Thu, 09/28/2023 – 22:40