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DD-101 Murasame Class

The DD-101 Murasame class is a third-generation general-purpose escort ship, classified by some as large frigates, of the Maritime Self Defense Force. The 4,400 displacement ton Murasame-class is 1,000 displacement tons larger than its predecessor, the Kiri class DD ships of 3,400 tons. The armament includes advanced radar systems, anti-aircraft missiles, and vertical launchers. Highly reliable electronic systems are used for automation of various equipment and machinery. The vessels play a main role in the fleet in service, displaying its versatility. Defense equipment was further improved, increasing stealth performance. Automation technology is also introduced to various equipment to save manpower. The environment of the accommodation quarters is upgraded.

After the escort ships which were the core of the "88 fleet" were built, a number of years elapsed. Eventually, in 1991 it reached the point where it was recognized that construction of a new generation of warship for modernization and renewal of the fleet was needed. Most of the older escorts were built in the late 1960s early 1970s, and were becoming old and worn out. The DD 101 Murasame class was designed to replace the smaller destroyers that were reaching block obsolescence. The Murasame class ships maintained the total number of escorts, in addition to being more powerful then their predecessors.

Construction of the DD-101 Murasame class series began in fiscal 1991. The most advanced DD class destroyer, Murasame, was delivered to Japanese Defense Agency at the IHI Tokyo Shipyard in March 1996. The Murasame was the first ship of nine destroyers of the same class. Marine United Co. (MU) and IHI jointly delivered the defense destroyer Samidare to the Japanese Defense Agency at the IHI Tokyo Shipyard in March 2000. The ensign was also given to the ship on the same day. The Samidare, the sixth of the class, was constructed under the fiscal 1995 plan of the agency.

The primary feature of the armament is the adoption of VLS (the vertical launch system). In order to load various new model equipment, including the VLS, the displacement increased to 4,400 tons, but the crew was no more than 170, and habitability was improved.

The MK 41 VLS is a below-deck launching system capable of firing many different types of missiles. Initially, the weapons on the VLS were only ASROC. The MSDF plans to install four ML 41 launchers on all of its Murasame-class destroyers, with each system consisting of eight cells.

In April 2000 it was announced that Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems (NE&SS)-Baltimore had signed a follow-on, direct commercial sale contract with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) for licensed production and test of MK 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS). The follow-on portion of the Phase I contract included production of four eight-cell modules and is valued at approximately $21 million. Under the terms of the follow-on contract, NE&SS-Baltimore provided four MK 41 VLS modular production kits to MHI for assembly and test. The completed modules were installed on a Japanese MURASAME-class destroyer. In 1999, NE&SS-Baltimore and MHI signed an initial Phase 1 contract valued at approximately $70 million for the production and related services of eight VLS modules. The follow-on contract brought the total number of VLS modules to be produced under the contract to 12. Designed and developed by Lockheed Martin, the MK 41 VLS is a below-deck launching system capable of firing many different missile types. Previously, Japan's MURASAME-class ships were outfitted with a launcher consisting of two VLS modules, but in 1998 the Japanese government decided to double the number of MK 41 launchers on each ship resulting in four modules of eight cells each. Lockheed Martin NE&SS-Baltimore has supplied MK 41 VLS for both the Japanese MURASAME- and KONGO-class ships since 1989.

In May 2000 it was announced that GE Marine Engines would supply Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. of Tokyo with two LM2500 aero-derivative gas turbines, to be used to power an 11DD-101 Murasame-class destroyer being built for the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. The 11DD project brought to 49 the total number of LM2500s serving the Japanese fleet on destroyers, patrol hydrofoils, and an experimental vessel.

Initially, it was planned to build a total of 14 units of this class. However, only nine were built, with construction subsequently beginning on the DD 110 Takanami class, a modified variant of the Murasame. To follow the nine compact Murasames, funds were approved under the 1998 budget for the first of a slightly larger design, and a second was requested for 1999. The 10th warship which was built in 1998 (designated Takanami, construction number " 2239") was for anti-warship striking force to strengthen the Aegis escort ship. It featured a 127-mm single mount rapid fire gun. Because of the enlargement in armament and in displacement (a 100 ton increase), it became another class officially.

Namesakes

The word "Murasame" means "Autumn Rain" or "Passing Shower." There was a legendary swordsmith named Murasame, whose blades were said to be blessed or cursed, depending on your point of view, with actual human spirits. Ieyasu Tokugawa was famous for giving them as gifts to favored daimyo.

During WW2, there was a Shiratsuyu Class destroyer called Murasame. The Murasame, a 1685-ton destroyer built at Osaka, Japan, was completed in January 1937. During the Second World War she was employed in several campaigns, beginning with the invasion of the Philippines. On 5-6 March 1943, less than a month after the Japanese had given up the fight for Guadalcanal, Murasame and the destroyer Minegumo took supplies to the Japanese base at Vila, on Kolombangara Island. While withdrawing after landing their cargo, the two ships encountered a greatly superior U.S. Navy cruiser-destroyer task force. In a brief battle, both Japanese ships were sunk. None of Murasame's crewmen survived her loss.




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