Japan Ministry of Defense

Pilot’s seat of a patrolling P-3C
No.19 NOVEMBER 2010

Pilot’s seat of a patrolling P-3C

Anti-Piracy Operations off the Coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden

(Anti-piracy operations extended)
Based on the "Law on the Penalization of Acts of Piracy and Measures Against Acts of Piracy (Anti-Piracy Measures Law)," the prime Minister approved the extension of anti-piracy measures requested by the Defense Minister on July 16, and the anti-piracy operations were extended for one year from July 24. Following that, the Defense Minister Kitazawa issued order for the Self-Defense Forces operation based on the requirement such as activity areas, scale of units, equipment and so on. The one of main reason for extension was that occurrence of piracy activities off the Coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden has remained largely unchanged than before.

The 5th surface unit commences operations

The 5th surface unit engaged in escort operation for civilian vessels off the Coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, commenced operations from June 5. The 5th surface unit, the commanding officer, Captain Yasuhiko Shinomura, comprised two destroyers "Murasame" and "Yuugiri," with about 420 members. The 6th surface unit (the commanding officer, Captain Shinobu Mifune, Commander of Escort Division 3, with about 420 members and 8 Japan Coast Guard Officers) consisted of two destroyers. The one destroyer "Setogiri" (commanded by Commander Masafumi Nishiwaki), departed from MSDF Oominato base in Aomori, northern part of Japan, on August 23, and another destroyer "Makinami" (commanded by Commander Tatsuo Akimoto) departed from MSDF Sasebo Base in Nagasaki, western part of Japan on 26 August. The 6th surface unit arrived at off the coast of Somalia in mid-September to take over the missions.

Operational Activity from June to September 2010

  1. Number of escort operations: 38 (The 142nd to 179th escort operations) (The 101st to 138th escort operations under Japan’s Anti-Piracy Measures Law)
  2. Number of escorted vessels: 344 (Accumulated total of 1,158 since the commencement of escort operations)
    * In the 122nd escort operation finished on 10 August, the number of vessels escorted by the surface units reached 1,000.
  • [Breakdown]
    Japanese-registered ships: 1 (Accumulated total of 9) Foreign ships operated by Japanese shipping companies: 63 (Accumulated total of 284) (Out of the 63 foreign ships, Japanese citizens were on board 4 ships) Foreign ships other than the above: 280 (Accumulated total of 865)(Out of 280 foreign ships, Japanese citizens were on board 3 ships)
    * The above record does not include the 1st-41st escort operation performed as Maritime Security Activities, which were performed before the establishment of the Anti-Piracy Measures Law.
    * If the Anti-Piracy Measures Law had not come into force, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers would not have been able to legally escort 274 of the 344 escorted vessels (the 274 foreign ships not operated by Japanese shipping companies.)

(Information source)

On June 13, destroyer "Murasame," which was engaged in 144th escort mission, received information from commercial vessel, which had not joined our convoy, that the commercial vessel was being chased by a suspicious small ship. Then a MSDF helicopter took off from destroyer "Murasame" and confirmed the suspicious small ship which had two outboard engines and was carrying seven passengers. Moreover, it visually confirmed that the suspicious small ship disposed something in the sea. Later on, Turkish warship took over surveillance activities and the Japanese helicopter returned to patrol operation.

Replacement by the 4th Air Unit

The 3rd air unit, commanded by Commander Masahiko Shimizu, consisted of about 150 personnel, had undertaken flight operation in the Gulf of Aden from February 9, finished its about 4 months service on June 6. The operation has been taken over by the 4th air unit, commanded by Captain Yasuharu Kimura, and about 150 personnel.

Operational Activity from June to September 2010

  1. Number of flights: 85 (Accumulated total of 318)
  2. Fl ight hours : Approximately 599 hours (Accumulated total of approximately 2,420 hours)
  3. Number of visually confirmed commercial ships: Approximately 6,580 (Accumulated total of approximately 22,300)
  4. Number of times information was provided to Japanese destroyers, foreign warships, and/or commercial ships: Approximately 870 (Accumulated total of approximately 2,730 times)

(Example of information provided)

  • On June 2, a MSDF P-3C which was engaged in patrol operations received information from U.S. warship that a Panama-registered commercial ship was attacked by pirates. When the Japanese P-3C arrived at the scene, it confirmed the commercial ship had already been hijacked and reported the situation to the U.S. warship. In addition, the Japanese P-3C searched the area around the hijacked commercial ship and did not detect any suspicious boat. Therefore, in reported as such to the U.S. warship.
    * According to the news report, this hijacked commercial ship l was released on 3 June by the Punt land security forces.
  • On June 28, a MSDF P-3C which was engaged in patrol operations received information about hijacked Singapore-registered commercial vessel from German warship. The Japanese P-3C confirmed the situation of the hijacked vessel and reported it to the German warship.
  • On August 10, a MSDF P-3C detected a suspicious small boat with contents including a many plastic containers. This information was provided to nearby foreign warship and Danish warship that received information rushed to the suspected boat and conducted an on-board investigation. Later on, they released suspicious boat because there wasn’t enough evidence of piracy although the boat was strongly suspicious.
  • On August 19, a MSDF P-3C detected a Dhow ship with suspicious goods including many drums and a small boat with 8 suspicious passengers, a ladder and two out-board engines. This information was provided to nearby foreign warships, A French ship-based helicopter rushed to the suspected ships and stopped them by firing warning shot toward the bow. Later on, the French warship conducted an on-board inspection, and released them because there was not enough evidence of piracy although the boat was strongly suspicious.
  • On August 29, a MSDF P-3C detected a suspicious small boat with goods and people including 7 passengers, a ladder, many plastic containers and two out-board engines. This information was provided to nearby foreign warship and merchant vessels. Later on, a Danish ship-based helicopter confirmed the suspected small boat and the U.S. warship conducted an on-board inspection.

Futenma Replacement Facility Bilateral Experts Study Group Report

On August 31, based on the 28 May 2010 Joint Statement of the Japan–U.S. Security Committee(SCC), the governments of Japan and the United States released the Bilateral Experts Study Group(ExSG) Report on the relocation of the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma including the configuration and construction method for the replacement facility to be relocated in the Henoko-saki area of Camp Schwab.

The ExSG studied two plans such as the "V" plan and the "I" plan to locate the replacement facility at the Henoko-saki area in terms of their construction methods, safety, operational requirements, noise impact, effects on the local community, environmental concerns, the cost, and construction timelines, and evaluated the results.

In releasing the report, Defense Minister Kitazawa said, "From here I would like to hold further discussions with the local community based on the report in order to verify and validate the results by the next 2+2 meeting." He stressed to his intention mitigate the burden in Okinawa.

In the report, the ExSG evaluated the safety, both plans could meet standards because the routing for both plans would be primarily over water. As for operational requirements, although each plan had one area of elevated operational risk, both plans would meet requirements of U.S. Forces.

Regarding the noise impact and environmental concerns, the ExSG evaluated that the I-shaped configuration would result in more overflight of land during instrument approaches and departures from and to the northeast. It also noted that the I-shaped plan would reclaim less sea area than that of the V-shaped plan but the impact on animal and plants habitat remained to be assessed in the future.

As for construction timeline, the ExSG mentioned that the I-shaped plan would take approximately 15 months longer to start construction than the existing V-shaped plan because the I-shaped plan would need a new design and modification of the Environmental Impact Assessment.

The estimated construction period in the I-shaped plan would be approximately half a year shorter than the V-shaped plan because of the smaller estimated sea area to be reclaimed. However, it concluded that the completion point for the V-shaped plan would be approximately 9 months earlier than the I-shaped plan.

The cost of the I-shaped plan was estimated to be about 3% less than for the V-shaped plan due to assumptions concerning the smaller estimated volume of landfill.