A couple of posts from Naval News gives us a look at the latest cutters being delivered to the Japan Coast Guard. They typlify an apparent trend to larger, faster cutters with more extensive aviation facilities.
- Shunkō Large Patrol Vessel Handed Over To Japan Coast Guard, 5 Feb. 2020
- MHI Launches 2nd 6000-Ton Patrol Vessel For Japanese Coast Guard, 1 July, 2022
Speed is a respectable 25 knots. The reported displacement of 6,700 tons may be deceptive. Asian navies and coast guards tend to minimize the size of their ships. These ships are about 9,000 tons full load, making them about twice the size of the Bertholf class NSCs and Argus class OPCs.
- Length: 140 meters (459.2 feet–100 feet more than the Offshore Patrol Cutter)
- Beam: 16.5 meters (54.12 feet–20 inches more than the OPC)
The reported range is a phenominal 20,000 nautical miles.
Their hangar and flight deck can accommodate two helicopters larger than H-60s.
The Japan Coast Guard, unlike the USCG, is not a military service. They have not followed China Coast Guard in becoming more heavily armed. Several China Coast Guard cutters are armed with guns up to 76mm. The 40mm guns that arm these ships are the largest caliber in the Japan Coast Guard. They are backed up by two 20mm Gatling Guns, one forward and one aft. This armament reflects the lessons of their difficulties in stopping a small North Korean spy ship with only 20mm Gatling guns. It is still clearly inadequate for forcibly stopping larger vessels.
I would like to point out a paragraph from the first of the two linked reports, dated 5 Feb., 2020.
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.
That the Japanese see a need for 75 large cutters, even though their EEZ is only 39.5% that of the US, and that their cutter fleet is far younger that ours, may say something about the adequacy of the USCG’s large cutter fleet, even when the currently planned fleet of 36 NSCs and OPCs is complete. (Keep in mind that if we proceed as planned, when the last OPCs is completed, the first NSC, Bertholf, will be 30 years old.)
I like the way the Japan Coast Guard designates their cutter types. These are PLH, e.g. Patrol, Large, Helicopter, that is simple, descriptive, truthful, and in accordance with the US Navy type designation system.