Yoshihiro Inava contributed to this story
Etajima was launched by JMU in December 2019. Its name comes from an island located in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan. Etajima island has a JMSDF Officer Candidate School (since the Japanese Imperial Navy era), so it is a very meaningful name for them. Delivery of Etajima to the JMSDF is scheduled for March 2021. JMU launched the first-in-class ship JS Awaji in October 2015 and the second ship JS Hirado in February 2017.
Japan’s MoD requested the budget for a fourth vessel of the Awaji-class in 2020 and the Ministry of Finance approved the request. It was included in the 2020 “Defense Of Japan” annual white paper issued in July 2020.
About JMSDF minesweeper Etajima
Etajima is the largest Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP) minesweeper in the JMSDF, with a total length of 67 meters, a maximum width of 11 meters, and a standard displacement of 690 tons.
Etajima is equipped with ZQS-4, a sonar for detecting mine laid deep underwater, not just in shallow waters. To blast mines, the vessel uses a new Expendable Mine Disposal System (EMD) by Mitsui E&S. It is remotely controlled using optical fiber cable. In addition, moored mine will be disposed with the JM61 20mm Vulcan gun fitted at the bow of the mine warfare vessel.
Etajima has basically the same equipment and structure as the two existing Awaji-class vessels (Awaji and Hirado), but there is one notable new feature on Etajima: The hull number has been painted with low visibility. This has the effect of making it difficult to identify the vessel’s name at sea and to recognize the presence of the vessel from a distance.