The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) commissioned its second Izumo-class helicopter carrier, JS Kaga (DDH 184), on 22 March in a ceremony held at the Japan Marine United (JMU) shipyard in Yokohama, near Tokyo. The first of class, JS Izumo (DDH 183), was berthed adjacent to Kaga during the event.
Built by JMU and launched in August 2015, Kaga is 248 m long, has a beam of 38 m, and will displace 24,000 tonnes at full load. Powered by four GE LM2500 gas turbines in a COGAG arrangement, it is estimated to have a top speed of 30 kt, according to Jane's Fighting Ships . It will have a complement of 520 officers and enlisted men.
The two Izumo-class vessels are the largest warships to enter Japanese service since the Second World War.
Although classified helicopter-destroyers by the JMSDF, these vessels have the appearance of a carrier rather than a destroyer. The flat-top is designed to operate helicopters in various roles.
Kaga is expected to embark a mix of Mitsubishi-Sikorsky SH-60K Seahawk anti-submarine warfare helicopters and AgustaWestland/Kawasaki MCH-101 for mine-countermeasure operations.
The JMSDF also anticipate using the ship for disaster relief, not only to deploy helicopters and personnel but also to exploit its capabilities as a command platform.
The armament of Kaga is limited to short-range self-defence systems, with two Raytheon Sea RAM missile systems and two Vulcan Phalanx multibarrelled 20 mm guns.
Kaga is the first Japanese naval ship to take that name since the Second World War aircraft carrier that took part in the Pearl Harbor attacks and was lost at the Battle of Midway.
In addition to the Izumo class, the JMSDF have two smaller 18,000-tonne helicopter-destroyers of the Hyuga class, which are capable of carrying up to 10 helicopters. Three 14,000-tonne Osumi-class tank landing ships (LST) are also flat-tops that can operate helicopters, but have no hangar facilities.
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