The navy showcased the medical capabilities of a newly acquired supply vessel yesterday shortly after it formally took delivery of the craft, which is expected to enhance Taiwan’s combat capabilities at sea, as well as its ability to provide humanitarian assistance.
The Panshih was formally delivered to the navy by local shipbuilder CSBC in a ceremony at Kaohsiung Port yesterday.
The navy opened the new vessel to the media shortly after the ceremony to give people a closer look at its medical facilities.
There is a small hospital on the ship that includes an operating theater, a dental room, three regular wards and an isolation ward. It is stocked with advanced equipment, such as endoscopy devices and mobile X-ray machines.
The hospital would provide medical services for Tawian’s military personnel and would also be able to offer treatment for disaster victims when it is deployed on international humanitarian aid missions, the navy said.
In order to provide a better quality of life for servicemen and women and officers on board, there is a gym and a social room where they can watch TV when they are off duty.
Having received the Panshih, the navy said it would now begin training personnel to familiarize them with the craft before formally entering the ship into service.
The vessel would be used to transport fuel, ammunition and other supplies to naval vessels in the event of war.
In peacetime, it is mainly to be used to carry supplies, conduct maritime rescue missions and provide humanitarian assistance, the navy said.
Currently, the navy only has one supply vessel in service, the Wuyi.
Captain Cheng Nai-pin, who will be the first captain of the Panshih, praised the vessel’s mobility, stability and ability to travel long distances and carry large amounts of supplies.
“We also have advanced medical equipment to provide better medical services than the Wuyi,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the ceremony. “The Panshih is also more stable than the Wuyi.”
Despite its supply and support functions, the ship is also well armed to maintain a certain level of defense capabilities, a navy official said.
The weapons on the Panshih include the Phalanx close-in weapons system, a 20mm Gatling gun and short-range Sea Chaparral surface-to-air missile, the official said.
Commissioned by the navy, CSBC began construction of the Panshih in 2011, and the vessel was christened in November 2013. It cost NT$4.09 billion (US$130.1 million) to build, according to the navy.
It was named after Panshih Mountain in Hualien County. The words suggest a sturdy and unwavering foundation.
The new vessel is 196m long and 25.2m wide, can take a crew of up to 165 and has a range of 8,000 nautical miles (14,816km).
It can reach a maximum speed of 22 knots (40.74kph) and has a load displacement of about 20,000 tonnes (18,143 tonnes) and a light displacement of about 10,000 tonnes (9071 tonnes).