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Japan launches fourth Mogami-class frigate Mikuma

Mogami-class FFM frigate JS Mikuma
JS Mikuma launching ceremony at MHI's Nagasaki yard on December 10, 2021. Photo: Japan defense ministry

The Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) held a naming and launching ceremony for its fourth Mogami-class frigate at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ Nagasaki Works yard on December 10.

The frigate was named Mikuma (pennant number 4), after the Mikuma River at Oita prefecture, Kyusyu.

Mikuma will now continue outfitting pierside before starting sea trials. The shipbuilder says the frigate is scheduled for delivery to the defense ministry in 2022.

Mikuma is the second ship in the class to be launched by MHI, with the previous one being the future JS Noshiro. The first two units were launched by Mitsui E&S Holdings Co., which was later taken over by MHI.

The launch of the fourth frigate comes almost exactly a year after the first FFM ship, which was actually the second in the series, hit the water in November 2020. The lead ship after which the class will derive its name, future JS Mogami, was launched in March this year.

Photo: JMSDF

As we wrote previously, the new generation of JMSDF frigates displaces over 5,000 tons at full load and combines compactness with manpower saving measures. 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.

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.

Japan plans to build up 22 vessels in the class vessel at a unit price of about ¥48 billion (approx. $461M). Local reports from November last year said Japan was in talks with Indonesia regarding a potential export deal for up to eight ships in the class.