The Republic of China (Taiwan) said it won't hesitate using its most powerful coast guard vessel, the first of which entered service Friday, to hunt down mainland Chinese ships illegally fishing and stealing mineral resources inside its territorial waters.
President Tsai Ing-wen delivered the stern warning during the ceremony in Kaohsiung that saw the "Angping (CG-601)," a heavily-armed catamaran patrol boat/missile corvette, enter service with the Coast Guard Administration of Taiwan (CGA). The same event also saw the launch of "Chengkung (CG-602)" slated to enter CGA service in 2021.
Anping is the first boat in the Anping-class offshore patrol vessel. A further three boats are scheduled for delivery to the CGA before the end of 2026.
The Angping-class will eventually consist of 12 locally designed and built 600-ton class catamaran patrol vessels that can quickly be converted into warships armed with Taiwan's latest hypersonic anti-ship missiles.
They won't be armed with the Hsiung Feng II (HF-2) and Hsiung Fend III (HF-3) anti-ship missiles while in CGA service, however. In their coast guard role, the Anpings will be equipped with high-pressure water cannons.
CGA said the Angping-class are expected to help combat smuggling and illegal border-crossings. The boats will also play an important role in CGA operations against illegal sand mining carried out by mainland Chinese intruders.
As a corvette of the Republic of China Navy, the Angpings can be converted into a full-fledged missile corvette armed with the HF-2 and HF-3.
The Angping and her sister-ships "are superior in speed and function compared to previous ships of the same tonnage, demonstrating the technical strength of Taiwan's shipbuilding industry," said Tsai.
"I believe that with the addition of new ships, it will be able to better demonstrate the courage of maritime patrol in enforcement and their determination to safeguard the blue-colored national territory," Tsai said, referring to the waters that surround Taiwan.
Tsai said the addition of the Angping and Chengkung to the CGA fleet also showcases Taiwan's determination to defend its territorial waters. She pointed to the increasing occurrence of Chinese dredgers trespassing into Taiwanese waters to extract sand from areas near the Matsu Islands as missions appropriate for the new boats.
"Such acts will never be tolerated," warned Tsai, indicating the CGA won't be lenient when it comes to protecting Taiwan's territorial waters.