A new Hyuga Class helicopter destroyer (DDH181) has been built for the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF). It was commissioned at Yokosuka port in Japan on 18 March 2009 and custom built at the Yokohama shipyard for JMSDF by IHI Marine United Inc.
The warship will be based in Yokosuka, serving as the flagship for the First Escort Flotilla. Among other unique aspects, the DDH181 is the first JMSDF destroyer to have female crew on board.
Hyuga Class destroyers (DDH181)
The Hyuga Class destroyers are a new type of helicopter destroyer (DDH). Hyuga will replace the existing 7,000t Haruna Class destroyers.
The ship is part of the 16DDH project; the name is derived from the 16th year of the Heisei reign in the Japanese calendar. Hyuga was one of the Japanese Imperial Navy's battleships that was converted into a hybrid battleship / aircraft carrier in 1943.
Two additional ships are planned while the second ship is still under construction. These new ships will now be the largest combat ships operated by Japan after the end of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The ship's design bears a resemblance to an aircraft carrier or an amphibious assault ship.
Hyuga is similar in design to a light aircraft carrier. It has a through-deck design to maximise potential space, enabling it to launch and retrieve the helicopter complement. It cannot act as a fixed wing aircraft as it is not fitted with a ski-jump or any other equipment.
The ships will use the helicopters on board for their primary mission of conducting anti-submarine activities. Serving as flagships for the JMSDF is on the agenda, command-and-control function is also in place.
The Hyuga is a 197m-long, 13,950t flat-deck vessel that can carry up to four helicopters on deck and operate 11 SH-60K type helicopters. The ship has a crew of 340 sailors and can only carry helicopters. As Japan was restricted under the pacifist constitution, it cannot possess offensive aircraft carriers.
Equipped with 16 mk41 vertical-launch system cells for anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, Hyuga accommodates two 20mm Phalanx anti-missile cannons and two triple 12.75in torpedo mounts for self defence.
The helicopter carriers are powered by combined gas turbine and gas (COGAG) propulsion. They are fitted with four General Electric LM2500 gas turbines, developing 25,000hp each.
The ship is an important part of the 16DDH project. The warship looks like an aircraft carrier with a flattop deck, but is a helicopter carrier. It is not classified as an aircraft carrier. More than four helicopters can take off and land concurrently.
The Hyuga has two aircraft lifts, an enclosed hangar and is able to carry up to 11 helicopters. In terms of its size, it is comparable to modern small aircraft carriers such as Italy's MM Giuseppe Garibaldi, Spain's Principe de Asturia and Britain's Invincible.
Hyuga is one of the largest warships built for the JMSDF and has given Japan its first real power projection capability since 1945. The vessel could also be instrumental for disaster recovery missions in the region, prone to earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and typhoons. The new vessel was unveiled on 11 April 2009.
* Article publicat a Naval Technology. Considerem imprescindible el coneixement de les unitats de la classe Hyuga per tal d'entendre el present i el futur de les Forces Marítimes d'Auto-Defensa Japoneses.