New locally-built fast combat support ship AOE 532 Panshih (磐石) finished its sea trials and officially entered ROC Navy (ROCN) service on Friday, January 23, 2015. The 196 meters-long ship’s full load displacement is 20,800 tons, light displacement around 10,000 tons, maximum speed is 22 knots, range of 8000 nautical miles, and carries a crew of 165 sailors. Panshih is able to replenish two ships at the same time. For comparison, ROCN biggest warships, Keelung class (ex-USS Kidd class) destroyers, are 172m long and have full displacement of 9783 tons. Panshih was built by CSBC Corporation, traditional shipbuilder for the ROC Navy.
Navy Recognition reported in November 2014 that AOE 532 will be also equipped with 76mm OTO Melara cannon, two 20mm Phalanx CIWS (close-in weapon systems) for protection against incoming missiles, two 35mm and two 30mm guns and several .50 cal machine guns. However, from attached photo and released video, it appears that 76mm cannon was replaced by navalised version of the Antelope short range air defense system with Taiwan-made TC-1 missiles (itself derivate of AIM-9L Sidewinder). In addition, Taiwan’s new combat support ship does not only carry vital supplies for ROCN’s warships but is also able to accommodate SH-60 (S-70) Seahawk or CH-47D helicopters.
Combat support ships (AOE, acronym used in the US Navy) usually do not get the same amount of attention like major combat ships. However, they are absolutely crucial for keeping fleet on the open sea, especially under combat conditions when replenishment in ports may be restricted. In a peacetime, AOEs can conduct HADR (humanitarian and disaster relief) operations. For that purpose, Panshih is equipped with medical facilities, including operating room and three regular and one isolation ward.