JS Kashima, Japanese Warship

Residents of Sea Point, Fresnaye, Bantry Bay, and surrounding areas may have heard a 21-gun salute from Signal Hill today (Tuesday, 2 July 2024). This salute marked the arrival of two Japanese warships, JS Kashima and JS Shimakaze, in Cape Town, heralding a significant moment in South African maritime history. This historic visit by the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) is the first since the establishment of the Maritime Self-Defence Force after World War II.

Arrival and Ceremonial Welcome

The training ships JS Kashima and JS Shimakaze arrived in Cape Town for refueling on 2 July. Tomorrow, 3 July, a formal welcome ceremony was held on board. The South African Naval Band performed, and the Flag Officer Fleet (FOF) of the South African Navy delivered a welcome address. This ceremony was followed by an open ship event, a luncheon, and an evening reception for a select group of guests, showcasing the importance of this international visit.

Public Access and Open Ship Events

On Thursday, 4 July, the ships will be open to the public, offering South African citizens a unique opportunity to explore these naval vessels. The public visiting hours are from 10:00 to 11:30 and 13:00 to 15:00 at Berth E and F beside the Cruise Terminal in the V&A Waterfront. This event promises to be an educational and engaging experience for those interested in maritime and naval operations.

Details of the Ships

JS Kashima, the flagship of the JMSDF Training Fleet, is a training vessel designed for the comprehensive development of naval officers. Launched in February 1994 and commissioned in January 1995, the ship measures 143 meters in length, with a beam of 18 meters and a draft of 4.6 meters. It has a displacement of 4,050 tons and is powered by a combined diesel or gas (CODOG) system, enabling a top speed of 25 knots. The ship is equipped with an Otobreda 76 mm gun, two triple 324 mm torpedo tubes, and four saluting cannons. The vessel accommodates 370 personnel, including officer cadets who live in two-person staterooms.

JS Shimakaze is a Hatakaze-class guided missile destroyer, reclassified as a training ship in 2021. The ship was launched in January 1987 and commissioned in March 1988. It is 150 meters long, with a beam of 16.4 meters and a draft of 4.8 meters. The vessel’s four gas turbines give it a top speed of 30 knots. It has a complement of 260 personnel and is armed with two 130 mm Mark 42 deck guns, eight Harpoon missiles, a ship-to-air missile launcher, ASROC launcher, two Phalanx CIWS, and two Type 68 triple torpedo tubes. The aft deck can accommodate an SH-60K helicopter.

Significance of the Visit

This visit is part of the 2024 Overseas Training Cruise, which aims to provide JMSDF trainee officers with practical training and to enhance their understanding of international maritime operations. Approximately 570 people, including 190 graduates of the 74th General Officer Candidate Course, are participating in this cruise. The 175-day journey, which started on 20 May, will cover approximately 35,000 nautical miles and include stops at various ports around the world, including Brunei, Seychelles, Senegal, Italy, Turkey, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Mexico.

The visit coincides with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Japan Self-Defence Force (JSDF) on 1 July 1954. Since its establishment, the JSDF has played a vital role in maintaining peace and stability, both in Japan and internationally. The JSDF has been involved in numerous humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, including UN missions in Mozambique and South Sudan, anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, and disaster relief efforts.

Future Events and Departure

No major events are scheduled for Friday, 5 July. The ships are set to depart Cape Town on Saturday, 6 July, at 09:00, accompanied by a performance from a local band. This departure will mark the continuation of their extensive training cruise, contributing to the professional development of future Japanese naval officers.

This visit not only strengthens the maritime ties between Japan and South Africa but also offers the local community a rare glimpse into the operations of one of the world’s most advanced naval forces.

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