Japan commissions fifth Mogami-class frigate

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) announced that it had commissioned its latest Mogami-class multi-mission frigate, JS Yahagi, at a ceremony at shipbuilder Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI’s) Nagasaki Shipyard & Machinery Works in Nagasaki City on 21 May.

According to the service, Yahagi is assigned to Escort Division 14 based at Maizuru Naval Base in Kyoto Prefecture. The frigate – which was launched by MHI in June 2022 – is also the fifth vessel in a planned build of 12 Mogami-class frigates.

Up to 12 of the 5,500 tonne multi-mission 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.

The new frigates will essentially be improved Mogami-class ships that are set to be built to the design proposed by MHI and fitted with longer-range missiles, enhanced anti-submarine capabilities, and improved capabilities for various maritime operations.

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, as well as an overall beam of 16.3 m.

Two New FFMs worth US$1.2 billion have already been provisioned 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