01 Oktober 2014
JMSDF helicopter carrier JS Izumo was unveiled on 6 August 2013 at the IHI Marine United shipyard in Isogo, Yokohama. (photo : Jane's)
The Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) has begun sea trials of its helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH 183), a JMSDF official confirmed to IHS Jane's on 29 September.
The 248 m-long vessel, which displaces 24,000 tonnes at full load, is the largest Japanese military ship built since the Second World War and can carry up to 14 helicopters. Izumo and its yet unnamed sister ship (DDH 184) will replace the JMSDF's two Shirane-class destroyers, JS Shirane (DDH 143) and JS Kurama (DDH 144), inducted in March 1980 and 1981 respectively.
According to the JMSDF, Izumo 's sea trials are being carried out in preparation for the vessel's impending commissioning. "The trials have started and will go on for about six months before we commission it in 2015", Lieutenant Commander Yasushi Kojima of the Maritime Staff Office told IHS Jane's . However Lt Cdr Kojima did not reveal the exact nature of the trials nor the date that they started, adding only that they have "just begun".
The DDH-183 Izumo in comparison to its predecessor the DDH-181 Hyuga (image : worldwarships)
YouTube footage dated 23 September shows tugs escorting Izumo out of Tokyo Bay.
According to IHS Jane's Fighting Ships , Izumo will be equipped with an OQQ-22 bow-mounted sonar for submarine prosecution while defence against anti-ship missiles will be provided by two Raytheon RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile SeaRAM launchers.
Despite concerns raised by Japan's neighbours, the vessel's comparative lack of offensive weapons seem to corroborate with claims by JMSDF officials that it will be deployed mainly for border surveillance and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) missions.
Besides embarking aircraft such as Sikorsky/Mitsubishi SH-60K Seahawk anti-submarine warfare helicopters and the AgustaWestland/Kawasaki MCH-101s, Izumo can accommodate 970 personnel, including the ship's crew and Japan Ground Self-Defence Force troops.
Izumo is scheduled for commissioning in March 2015 while DDH 184 is due to be launched in August the same year by Yokohama-based shipbuilder IHI Marine United. The second vessel's induction is anticipated for March 2017.