NAVY TO RESTORE ORDER FOR 8TH PERRY-CLASS FRIGATE
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NAVY TO RESTORE ORDER FOR 8TH PERRY-CLASS FRIGATE

Taipei, March 13 (CNA) The China Shipbuilding Corp. (CSBC) is preparing to resume construction of an eighth Perry-class frigate for the Republic of China Navy after the order was put on hold for two years, CSBC officials said in Kaohsiung on Monday.

Negotiations to resume work on the warship is underway, with a target delivery date set for 2003, said the CSBC officials, with a contract expected to be signed at the end of this month.

The navy ordered eight of the frigates modeled on the US-made Perry-class missile frigate from the CSBC in 1990, but the order for the last of the eight, to be christened "Tientan," was dropped in 1997 because of a strained defense budget.

The cancellation of the order damaged CSBC because some materials for its construction had already been purchased, and the officials noted that this damage will not be erased by the resumption of construction, because the two-year delay has rendered some of materials unusable.

The seven frigates already delivered currently form the backbone of the navy. The warships, equipped with advanced radar, rapid-fire guns, locally manufactured surface-to-surface missiles, torpedoes, depth charges, and two anti-submarine helicopters, are vital to the island's sea defenses. (By Maubo Chang)