Shipbuilding company Japan Marine United (JMU) Corporation has launched the third Awaji-class mine countermeasures vessel (MCMV) on order for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
The 67 m-long boat, which has been named Etajima (with pennant number MSO 306), entered the water in a ceremony held on 12 December at the company's facility in Yokohama City and is expected to enter service with the JMSDF in March 2021.
JMU has built all three Awaji-class MCMVs.
In late August the JMSDF requested about JPY12.8 billion (USD118 million) for fiscal year 2020 to build the fourth vessel of the class.
According to the JMSDF, the Awaji class has a crew complement of around 55, a standard displacement of 690 tonnes, a beam of 11 m, and a draught of 5.2 m. Each of the vessels in service is powered by two diesel engines of 2,200 hp each and has a stated top speed of 14 kt.
The hull of these platforms has been constructed from a composite fibre-reinforced plastic material to reduce weight as well as the magnetic signature of the platforms during minesweeping operations. The material is also highly corrosion-resistant, according to the JMSDF.
A JMSDF spokesperson told Jane's that the Awaji-class vessels are expected to be in service for more than 30 years while wooden-hulled minesweepers have a service life of about 20 years.
Etajima is equipped with light detection and ranging (LIDAR) surveillance systems, which can locate objects under water at long range both during the day and at night.
The ship is equipped with the Mitsui E&S Holdings' expendable mine disposal system (EMDS) for mine identification as well as with the Hitachi-made variable depth sonar (VDS) system, which is designed to detect, locate and classify mines. It is also equipped with unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) to locate and clear deep mines.
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