Taiwan Unveils First-Ever Locally-Built Submarine, Bolstering Military Deterrence Against Beijing Threat


In a historic milestone for Taiwan's defense capabilities, President Tsai Ing-wen presided over the unveiling of the island's inaugural domestically constructed submarine, marking a significant stride in fortifying its military deterrent amidst escalating tensions with Beijing.

The ceremony, held at the submarine's shipyard in Kaohsiung city, saw the vessel officially christened as "Narwhal" in English and "Hai Kun" in Mandarin, roughly translating to "sea monster."

President Tsai affirmed, "The submarine is an important realization of our concrete commitment in defending our country. It is also important equipment for our naval forces in developing asymmetric warfare strategies."

Tsai expressed pride in overcoming initial skepticism, stating, "In the past, many people thought building an indigenous submarine would be an impossible task. But we have made it."

The event held personal significance for Tsai, who initiated the flagship defense policy for domestic submarine construction shortly after assuming office in 2016.

With China asserting territorial claims over Taiwan, the unveiling of these submarines represents a strategic move by Taiwanese defense leaders to create a formidable barrier against potential invasion.

Journalists were granted access to tour the submarine's shipyard but were restricted from capturing close-up imagery for security reasons. Furthermore, specific details about the vessel's size and capabilities were not disclosed during the ceremony.

Notable attendees included Sandra Oudkirk, the de facto U.S. ambassador to Taiwan, as well as representatives from Japanese and South Korean missions in Taipei.

Tsai emphasized that the indigenous submarine project remains a "top priority" for her administration. By 2025, Taiwan aims to bolster its submarine fleet to three, in addition to the two Dutch-made submarines commissioned in the 1980s. Plans are in motion to eventually construct a total of eight indigenous submarines.

Admiral Huang Shu-kuang, a key figure in Taiwan's National Security Council and leader of the indigenous submarine project, detailed the crucial role the new fleet will play in thwarting potential Chinese naval blockades. While the Taiwan Strait may pose limitations for submarine operations, these vessels will prove invaluable in targeting Chinese warships in strategic areas like the Bashi channel and the waters between Taiwan and Japan's westernmost islands.

Huang stressed that Taiwan's strategic positioning within the first island chain - encompassing Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines - grants it the capacity to hinder China's military power projection. In the event of conflict, Taiwan's submarines, with their stealth capabilities, could approach Chinese aircraft carriers and launch attacks.

Collin Koh, senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, concurred, highlighting that Taiwan's new submarine fleet strengthens its second-strike capability, countering China's preparedness for U.S. military intervention.

Admiral Huang also revealed the submarines' capacity to carry U.S.-made MK-48 torpedoes, further enhancing their anti-surface ship capabilities.