Japan’s MHI launches eighth Mogami-class frigate

Japanese shipbuilder Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has launched the eighth Mogami-class guided-missile frigate on order for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) on 14 November at the former Mitsui E&S facilities in Tamano City, the JMSDF announced a day later.

The new vessel, which will enter service as JS Yubetsu once it has been fitted out, tested, and commissioned around 2025, is one of eight Mogami-class frigates that have been ordered for the JMSDF. The new frigates will replace the JMSDF’s fleet of Abukuma-class frigates that were commissioned in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The first ship-in-class, JS Mogami, was launched in March 2021 by MHI and commissioned in April 2023. The second vessel, Kumano, was launched by Mitsui E&S in November 2020 before divesting its naval shipbuilding business to MHI. Subsequent frigates, Noshiro, Mikuma, and Yahagi, were also launched by MHI in June and December 2021 and June 2022 respectively. The sixth and seventh frigates – Agano and Niyodo – were launched in December 2022 and September 2023.

Up to 12 of the 5,500 tonne multimission frigates are expected to be acquired for the JMSDF, followed by another 12 “New FFM” designs that would feature improved capabilities. Local media have reported, citing anonymous JMSDF officials, that the baseline design failed to meet performance expectations and were limited in their growth potential.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) had earlier selected MHI and Japan Marine United Corporation (JMUC) to be respective main and subcontractors to develop the New FFM design.

ATLA announced that the new design will have a greater overall length of about 142 m and a wider overall beam of about 17 m. In contrast, the current Mogami-class frigates feature an overall length of 132.5 m, an overall beam of 16.3 m.

Two New FFMs worth US$1.2 billion have already been provisioned for under the FY2024 budget request.

The Japanese defence ministry also stated that the New FFM will be armed with an improved version of the ship-launched Type 12 surface-to-surface missile as well as the new surface-to-air missile.

It added that the new vessels will also be equipped with improved anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities – with a multifunction hull-mounted sonar, towed-array and variable depth sonars and the ability to deploy sea mines – as well as improvements for other maritime operations.

by Jr Ng