Launching of new Awaji-class Minesweeper named Etajima for Japanese Navy

According to a publication released on the Facebook account of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) on December 12, 2019, the naming and launch ceremony was held at Yokohama shipyard, Japan Marine United Corporation for the newest Awaji-class Minesweeper named Etajima (MSO 306).

Launching of new Awaji class mine Minesweeper named Etajima for Japanese Navy 925 001 Launching ceremony for the newest Awaji-class mine Minesweeper named Etajima of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. (Picture source Facebook account Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force)

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) has ordered three Awaji-class minesweeping vessels from Japan Marine United (JMU) to strengthen its minesweeping capabilities for safety and security of the marine infrastructure. The first ship was launched in October 2015 and delivered to the Japan Ministry of Defence in March 2017. The launching ceremony of the second minehunter vessel, Hirado (305), was held in February 2017 and its sea trials were conducted in September 2017. It was delivered to the JMSDF in March 2018.

The Awaji-class can be used by minesweeping forces of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) to clear a large number of mines in Japanese territorial waters and ports to protect naval and passenger vessels carrying troops, passengers and supplies.

The Awaji-class vessel has a length of 67 meters, a beam of 11 meters, and a draught of 5.2 meters. The top speed of the Awaji, powered by two diesel engines, is 14 knots according to representatives of the Japan Maritime United Corporation.

The Awaji-class vessel is fitted with a remotely controlled weapon station, armed with a JM61R-MS 20mm caliber cannon, located on the bow deck to provide an anti-aircraft defense.

The Awaji-class minesweeping vessel carries a variable depth sonar (VDS) system at the aft to detect, locate and classify mines, submarines, surface vessels, and other underwater objects positioned at various depths in both shallow and deep water. The VDS can be deployed and retrieved using a winch drum.

The ship also carries unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) to locate and clear deep mines, and underwater inspection equipment for the inspection of submerged objects.