Navy holds mast-stepping ceremony for indigenous landing platform dock

Taipei, Taiwan's Navy on Thursday held a mast-stepping ceremony for the nation's first indigenous landing platform dock (LPD) that is expected to enter into service next year to support amphibious operations and transport missions.

The ceremony, held at shipbuilder CSBC Corp.'s Kaohsiung headquarters, was presided over by Navy Commander Admiral Liu Chih-pin and CSBC Chairman Cheng Wen-lon according to the Military News Agency.

A mast-stepping ceremony is usually held close to the end of a ship's construction and involves the placing of coins underneath the mast of a ship for good luck.

According to the Navy, CSBC won the bid in April 2018 to build an LPD prototype at a cost of NT$4.6 billion (US$162 million).

The prototype is expected to be put into service in the first half of 2022, replacing the Navy's single amphibious transport dock that has been in service for 50 years, namely the ROCS Hsu Hai (formerly the USS Pensacola.)

The new LDP will be used to support amphibious operations and transport tasks, and it will serve as a hospital ship and vessel for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in peacetime.

The dock will be able to support various landing craft and the AAV-7 amphibious assault vehicle, as well as helicopters.

When completed, the 10,000-ton LDP will be 153 meters long, with a top speed of 21 knots and a range of up to 7,000 miles or 12,964 kilometers.

The design also requires the ship be fitted with a 76mm gun and Phalanx close-in weapon systems.

The construction of the LDP is part of Taiwan's ongoing efforts to expand its indigenous defense capacity by building its own military aircraft, ships, and submarines, an initiative that started after President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May 2016.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel