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LST Osumi Class

The JMSDF unveiled the 8,900 ton Osumi (LST) in the mid-1990s, which raised the anxieties of several countries in the region because of its flat deck gave it the appearance of a small aircraft carrier. This program originated in a proposal for a small carrier for defensive and MCM purposes, but this was deemed politically unaccpetable, and the project was reworked as an amphibious ship. The 13,000-ton, 22-knot ships resemble small aircraft carriers, but can accommodate up to four helicopters on the deck, and their stern wells can each hold two LCACs. Although officially classed as an LST - Landing Ship Tank - the Osumi class lacks a bow door and is not intended to beach. It is instead better regarded as a Landing Ship, Dock [LSD], since it can accomodate a pair of LCACs in a 60-70 meter long well dock, but lacks hangar space for helicopters.

The 584-foot Oosumi has a long, uncluttered vehicle parking deck topside that is surmounted by a blocky "island" superstructure offset somewhat to starboard, giving an appearance suggesting to some that she is somehow intended to be employed in the future as an aircraft carrier. The JMSDF, however, insists that the ship can handle only a pair of CH-47 Chinook helicopters and two SH-60J patrol helicopters. The small elevator forward is used to bring vehicles to and from the flight deck, rather than to stow aircraft below deck.

The design boasts an immense upper deck, with an overall length of 160m, breadth of 25.8m and houses a vehicle loading space on the front and a helicopter landing deck on the rear. The front of her hull supports a 100m long vehicle deck. In combination with the upper deck, the loading of between ten and twenty tanks and about forty large scale vehicles is possible.

In the rear of the hull, there is a 60m long space for two LCAC (Landing Craft Air Cushions) placed end to end. The first transport hovercraft of the JSDF, the LCAC rides on a cushion of air over water or land at a height of 1.2m at a maximum speed of 40kt (74km/h).

The JSDF's first hovercraft-type transport "air-cushion" is capable of both land and sea travel. The vehicle hovers 1.2m above water/ground via air-power and can reach speeds of 40knots (74km/h). With a loading capacity of 50tons and overall length of 27m, the hovercraft is capable of transporting 1 Type-90 tank or over 10 light vehicles. The LCAC has a crew of 5 and can also accommodate 24 JGSDF troops.

Osumi gives the JMSDF a modest lift capability, especially in defense of the outer islands. The "Ohsumi" type of vessel enables the efficient transport of JDS gournd troops to strategic locations, rescue of civillians in case of large scale natural disaster, and potentially functions as a suplly base for United Nations Peace Keeping Operations. The massive hull features armored and opening deck. The rear of hull houses an armored landing deck for two large CH-47 helicopters. The well-dock in the rear of the ship houses the two LCAC hovercraft.

Plans were drawn up in 1993, and in March of 1998, the biggest transport ship of the JMSDF, the "Ohsumi" was deployed. The next Japanese defense ship to be released in that series is the "LST-4002 Shimokita". This ship was constructed with the longest hull of all the ships in the JMSDF and first left the docks on 29 November 2000. Its massive hull houses space for two "LCAC" hovercraft transport vessels. To enlarge the armored deck of "Shimokita", it was constructed to flare out over the hull.

LST-4002 Shimokita, which went into service on November, 2000. Adapting stealth technology, Shimokita's bridge area was constructed with flat surfaces. She boasts an immense upper deck, with an overall length of 160m and total breadth of 25.8m. The front deck is devoted to vehicle loading space and the rear deck serves as a heliport. The front of her hull is 100m long and combined with her upper deck can transport up to 10 tanks or other large military vehicles. The rear hull is 60m long and acts as a well-dock housing LCAC (Landing Craft Air Cushions). The Shimokita has a crew of 130, and can transport 330 ground troops. During the event of a disaster she can accommodate over 1000 civilians.

Like her predecessor, the Ohsumi, the Shimokita type vessel enables the efficient transport of JSDF ground troops, rescue of civilians in the event of a large scale natural disaster, and potentially functions as a supply base for United Nations Peace Keeping Operations.

The third Japan Maritime Defense Force (JMSDF) Osumi-class dock landing ship was was laid down by Mitsui on 07 September 2000. A total of four of the class may be built later to complete the replacement of the current six LSTs, whose normal employment is in resupply of Japanese offshore island facilities.

JDS OHSUMI (LST 4001), as part of the Japanese Transportation Force, met USS CARNEY (DDG 64) in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea for a Passing Exercise on 24 October 1999. JDS OHSUMI, in company with JDS BUNGO and JDS TOKIWA traveled over 9000 miles to provide humanitarian assistance to earthquake victims in Turkey. The exercise took place in the Eastern Mediterranean. Upon meeting, the ships conducted Communications Drills, Signalmen Drills and Ship Maneuvering Divisional Tactics. The day concluded with each ship making a Replenishment at Sea approach on the other, a procedure wherein the 8500 ton ships are less than 200 feet apart. This exercise included a "cheer ship" from USS CARNEY for the JDS OHSUMI. For the cheer ship, the entire crew mustered on the port side of USS CARNEY and gave three cheers to JDS OHSUMI crew. While alongside, an exchange of gifts occurred via a light line transfer. The exchange included ship's plaques, command ball caps and American home-made chocolate chip cookies. Upon completion, each ship played its traditional breakaway music and departed en route their next ports of call.



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