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Japan commissions first Mogami-class frigate JS Kumano

JS Kumano commissioning ceremony
Photo: JMSDF

The Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) held a commissioning ceremony for its first Mogami-class multi-mission frigate in Okayama on March 22.

While it is the first to enter service, JS Kumano is actually the second ship in its class.

Kumano was launched by former Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding (now Mitsubishi Heavy Industries) at the Tamano yard in Okayama in November 2020, and the lead ship, which is built at MHI’s Nagasaki yard, followed suit in March 2021.

The lead ship in the class, JS Mogami, is also scheduled for delivery this month, while a third unit is also expected to be commissioned by the end of the year.

A total of four of the frigates are currently in the water, with the latest launch taking place at the MHI Nagasaki Works yard in December last year.

Japan’s fast-paced multi-mission frigate (FFM) program is delivering a class of newly-designed “frigate-sized vessels with destroyer capabilities.”

Up to 22 ships in the class vessel will be built at a unit price of about ¥48 billion (approx. $461M) to replace the Asagiri- and Abukuma-class destroyers.

Japan’s Acquisition Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA) selected Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) as prime contractor and Mitsui as subcontractor for the 30DX (later designated as 30FFM) program in 2017. MHI took over Mitsui’s warship building business in March 2021, remaining the only contractor on the program.

FFM ships displace over 5,000 tons at full load and combine compactness with manpower saving, with which 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.