Second Large Helicopter Carrier Enters Service in Japanese Navy

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The Japanese Navy has received the new Kaga helicopter carrier amid rising tensions in the South China Sea.

Second Large Helicopter Carrier Enters Service in Japanese Navy

The Izumo helicopter carrier (L) anchors at its Yokosuka base in Kanagawa Prefecture on December 6, 2016 (Photo: AFP)

The Kaga helicopter carrier has entered service in the Japanese Navy on Wednesday, the Reuters news agency reported. The vessel was named after the Japanese aircraft carrier of the times of the Second World War, which, among other things, participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Kaga is the second ship of the Izumo class in the Japanese fleet. The first vessel of this type, the Izumo, entered service on March 23, 2015.

After the solemn ceremony, accompanied by a military band, the Kaga was moored next to the Izumo at the Japan Marine United shipyard in Yokohama near Tokyo. As Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation, the Izumo is planned to be dispatched on a three-month tour through the South China Sea in May.

Reportedly, the Kaga will be based in Kure, in western Japan, which also was home to the Japan’s most famous World War Two battleship, the Yamato. The Izumo operates from Yokosuka near Tokyo, where the US Seventh Fleet’s carrier, the Ronald Reagan, is also based.

Speaking at the ceremony, Japanese Vice Minister of Defense, Takayuki Kobayashi, pointed out to the threat from China. “China is attempting to make changes in the South China Sea with bases and through acts that exert pressure is altering the status quo, raising security concerns among the international community,” he said at the ceremony, attended by about 500 people.

Kaga’s fully loaded displacement is 27,000 tons. Its length is 248 meters, width – 38 meters, draft – 7.5 meters. The vessel is capable to build up speed up to 30 knots (56 kilometers per hour) and carry nine helicopters.

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