Japanese shipbuilder Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding launched the Japan Maritime Self Defense Forces’ first multi-mission frigate (FFM) at its Tamano Works yard on November 19.
The naming and launching ceremony took place after Japan’s Acquisition Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA) announced Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) as prime contractor and Mitsui as subcontractor for the 30DX (later designated as 30FFM) program in 2017.
While the first to be launched, Kumano is the second ship in the class. The lead ship, which is being built by MHI, is yet to be named and launched.
FFM displaces over 5,000 tons at full load and combines compactness with manpower saving. The ships of the class are envisioned as frigate-sized vessels with destroyer capabilities. They are expected to replace the Asagiri- and Abukuma-class destroyers.
With the manpower savings concept, JMSDF hopes to address its personnel shortage issues. The vessels will be crewed by some 100 sailors, a notable decrease compared to conventional and Aegis destroyers.
Japan plans to build up 22 vessels in the class vessel at a unit price of about ¥48 billion (approx. $461M).
The frigates will be powered by Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbines and MAN diesel engines, propelling to speeds of over 30 knots.
They are expected to carry vertical launch system cells, anti-ship missiles, and a SeaRAM short range missile system, in addition to a main gun and remote weapon stations.
Kumano is scheduled for delivery in 2022.