Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Launched Aki Ocean Surveillance Ship
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Launched Aki Ocean Surveillance Ship

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Launched Aki Ocean Surveillance Ship

Japanese shipbuilding company Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding (E&S) has launched the third Hibiki-class ocean surveillance ship on order for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). Named Aki (with pennant number AOS 5203), the small waterplane area twin hull (SWATH) vessel entered the water on 15 January in a ceremony held at the company’s facilities in the Japanese city of Tamano, Okayama Prefecture. In May 2018 Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding has received an order from the Ministry of Defense (MoD) in Tokyo to build a third Hibiki-class ocean surveillance ship for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).

Aki Ocean Surveillance Ship was being built for JPY18.3 billion (USD164 million) under a contract awarded to Mitsui E&S that same year. The 67 m-long ship which has a full-load displacement of 3,048 tonnes, is expected to be commissioned in March 2021. It will feature a more advanced Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System (SURTASS) than that fitted onto the first two ships of the class JS Hibiki (AOS 5201) and JS Harima (AOS 5202) – which entered service in 1991 and 1992, respectively. The new ship is intended to “further enhance Japan’s capability to gather acoustic information in the seas amid increasing and expanding submarine activities by neighbouring countries”.

The ship, which has a full-load displacement of 3,048 tonnes, is expected to be commissioned in March 2021. It will feature a more advanced Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System (SURTASS) than that fitted onto the first two ships of the class – JS Hibiki (AOS 5201) and JS Harima (AOS 5202) – which entered service in 1991 and 1992, respectively. The Hibiki class has an overall beam of 30 m, a top speed of 11 kt, and a standard range of 3,800 n miles. The vessels, each of which has a crew of 40, also feature a flight deck for helicopter operations.

Constructed on a SWATH Catamaran Hull, ships of the Hibiki Class share much of their outward design with the US Navy’s Victorious Class of Ocean Surveillance Ships. USNS Victorious (T-AGOS-19) is a Victorious-class ocean surveillance ship which was acquired by the U.S. Navy in 1991 and assigned to the Military Sealift Command (MSC) Special Missions Program. Victorious was manned by 19 civilian mariners under the control of the Military Sealift Command (MSC) and staffed with five sponsors. She is of a small waterplane area twin hull (SWATH) design, similar to a catamaran, which provides a stable platform for towing the ship’s SURTASS sonar arrays.

 Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Launched Aki Ocean Surveillance Ship
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Launched Aki Ocean Surveillance Ship

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