Thursday, December 30, 2010
On 18 March 2009, the largest naval vessel ever built for Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force, a 13,950-ton Hyuga with a 195-meter full-length flight deck, was delivered to the Ministry of Defense in Yokohama. On 11 April 2009, the Hyuga opened to the public at the Yokosuka naval base in Kanagawa Prefecture; more than 10,000 visitors board the helicopter-carrying destroyer (Japan Times). This helicopter-carrying destroyer is able to carry up to 11 helicopters aboard, and able to have up to four helicopters, such as the SH-60K antisubmarine helicopters, take off and land almost simultaneously (Kyodo News). Prime Minister Aso Taro denies that the Hyuga is an aircraft carrier, stating the naval vessel does not have offensive capabilities like attack aircraft carriers. The Hyuga destroyer, however, is larger than 13,500-ton light aircraft carriers in Spain and Italy. Because of the 105 billion-yen Hyuga destroyer`s resemblance to a light aircraft carrier with 340 crew members, the Chinese media have expressed concerns about the Japanese reasons for having the Hyuga destroyer. Was the Hyuga built in response to the fact that China is going to build an aircraft carrier in near future.