The Yomiuri Shimbun A plan is underway to start in fiscal 2020 construction of a new type of Maritime Self-Defense Force patrol ship, to be mainly used for reconnaissance and surveillance activities in territorial waters, according to government sources.
In light of the Chinese Navy’s increased activity, the government aims to have 12 such patrol ships in about 10 years, hoping to enhance reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities on waters around the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.
In the latest National Defense Program Guidelines, which the Cabinet approved in December, the government stipulated that the MSDF “will maintain patrol ship units.” Since then, the government has examined the details of the construction plan.
It takes an estimated five years to complete construction of one such patrol ship. The government is considering a plan to start two or three ships a year beginning in fiscal 2020.
In response to China’s advancements in the East China Sea, including the Senkaku Islands, the number of MSDF vessels is considered relatively small.
Although large MSDF destroyers currently conduct reconnaissance and surveillance activities, those vessels also have to carry out missions of monitoring North Korean ships suspected of transferring cargoes from other countries’ boats. For this purpose, the MSDF has dispatched other types of ships, such as supply vessels, to the East China Sea.
Starting this fiscal year, the government has implemented a program to build 22 new destroyers, which will mainly be in charge of reconnaissance and surveillance activities in the East China Sea, by around 2032.
With the construction of the new patrol ships, the government aims to make the nation’s reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities sufficiently prepared in the East China Sea by the 2030s.
The new destroyer will have 3,900 tons of standard displacement and about 100 crew members. The government plans the size of the new patrol ship to be about one-third that of the new destroyer, according to the sources.
The new patrol ship will have about 1,000 tons of standard displacement and about 30 crew members.
A senior official of the Defense Ministry said that the new patrol ship “will be able to navigate more effectively than the new destroyer and we aim to have the number of crew members as small as possible.”
The government hopes the large destroyers released from reconnaissance and surveillance activities will be able to concentrate on their primary mission of conducting drills in preparation for emergency situations to improve crew members’ skills.Speech