Congressman Urges Navy Support on Sub Sales
Thursday, February 23, 2006
A Connecticut congressman whose district includes a major submarine manufacturer, said the U.S. Navy should do more to support President George W. Bush's plan to sell eight diesel submarines to Taiwan. Newsday reported that Connecticut Republican Rob Simmons, speaking on a visit to Taipei, told an American business group the vessels, included in a $16 billion U.S. arms package, are crucial to the self-governing island's ability to defend itself against a possible attack by rival China, which is investing heavily in its own submarine fleet with a view toward using it against Taiwan, from which it split amid civil war in 1949. China has frequently threatened to use force to bring Taiwan back into its fold, and in March 2005 passed a law codifying armed action if the island moves to formalize its de facto independence. Recent reports in international defense journals have suggested the U.S. Navy is attempting to scuttle the Taiwan submarine deal by purposely inflating its price and severely limiting Taiwan's participation in the design of the vessels. The reports said the navy is concerned that the reopening of a diesel submarine line in a U.S. shipyard would create pressure for it too to acquire diesel subs.
At present the American submarine fleet is exclusively nuclear-powered. Simmons' congressional district includes Groton, home to the Electric Boat shipyard, one of four U.S. facilities bidding for the Taiwan submarine contract. The total price tag for the diesel submarines is currently quoted at $12 billion, but Electric Boat could execute the contract for no more than two-thirds that amount. Besides the diesel submarines, the proposed American weapons package to Taiwan also includes Patriot missiles and anti-submarine aircraft. (Source: Newsday)