Japan Coast Guard Grows and Grows

Technical drawing of the Mizuho-class patrol vessel (Credit : Japan Coast Guard)

Naval News reports the delivery of a second new very large cutter to the Japan Coast Guard.

We talked about these ships earlier. “Japan builds more XXLarge CG Cutters.” The odd thing about these ships is that they are essentially repeats of the Shikishima-class (first ship, Shikishima (PLH-31) commissioned 1992, second ship, Akitsushima  (PLH-32) commissioned 2013). The Shikishima class were in turn near repeats of the Mizuho class (first ship, Mizuho, now renamed Fusō (PLH-21), commissioned 1986, second, Yashima (PLH-22) commissioned 1988). The Reimei patrol vessel (PLH-33), referred to in the report is apparently the third member of the Shikishima class and was launched in March 2019. The two new ships are a new Mizuho (PLH-41) and Shunkō (PLH-42). Looks like they may have seven of these very large cutter, unless the new ships replace PLH-21 and 22. That is a good possibility as the Japanese replace their cutters much more rapidly than the USCG. When I last checked, they had not cutters more than 35 years old. 

Don’t let the reported displacement of 6,000 tons or 6,500 tons fool you. Asians tend to report light or empty displacement. Full load displacement is 9,300 tons, more than twice as large as the Bertholf class National Security Cutters.

There is some reported differences between the classes. The original Mizuhos were reported to be 130 meters in length, the Shikishimas, 150 meters, the new Mizuhos 140 meters. There are also differences in how they are armed. The newest ships introduce the BAE Bofors 40mm/70 Mk4.

The most interesting paragraph in the report was in regard to the rapid growth of the Japan Coast Guard.

In 2012, the JCG had 51 patrol vessels displacing more than 1,000 tons. The service has now 63 large vessels, and the goal is to operate 12 more ships by the end of FY 2023 to deal with new threats.

By comparison, the US Coast Guard, which patrols an EEZ more than two and a half times as large has only 39 patrol cutters larger than 1,000 tons and we plan to have only 36 (11 NSCs and 25 OPCs).

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