Japan commissions its biggest military ship

Japan commissions its biggest military ship
Crew of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force's new helicopter-carrying destroyer "Izumo" attend a ceremony on its flight deck at the Japan Marine United Corp's factory in Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture on March 25, 2015.

TOKYO - The Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Forces' largest ship ever went into service Wednesday, putting additional man- and material-carrying capacity at the ready for island defence and disaster relief.

The 248-meter Izumo, dubbed "a helicopter destroyer," is 25 per cent longer than Japan's Hyuga-class destroyers. It also has a bigger crew - about 470 members, or 90 more than the other ships.

With its long continuous flight deck, the Izumo can carry nine helicopters, an increase of five. It can also hold about 50 3.5-ton trucks, which will help it carry out joint operations with the Ground SDF.

Built at a cost of about 120 billion yen (S$1.37 billion), the Izumo is based at Yokosuka near here. It will play a coordinating role among other vessels and aircraft, flexing its advanced command and communications capabilities. Once the Ground SDF deploys Osprey vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, they could use the Izumo's flight deck.

Japan has no plans to use the Izumo as an aircraft carrier, Defence Minister Gen Nakatani told reporters.

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