|The Hyuga class is the largest naval vessel operated by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). The lead ship, Hyuga, was commissioned on
March 18, 2009 and is stationed in Yokosuka. The second ship in this class, Ise, was commissioned on March 16, 2011 and is stationed at Kure.
Although similar in design to a light aircraft carrier or an amphibious assault ship, they are classified as helicopter destroyers. They are comparable to
the Italian Giuseppe Garibaldi and Spanish Príncipe de Asturias, but they lack the ski-jump required to operate STOL aircraft. They also cannot
accommodate fixed wing aircraft and are restricted to operating only helicopters. A key reason for this restriction is that according to Japan’s
constitution, their military forces are strictly defensive; therefore the primary mission for these ships is to function as anti-submarine warfare vessels
and in that respect they are quite capable. Furthermore, all weapons fitted are for the defense of the ship.
Hyuga is 646 feet long, displaces 13,950 tons standard and has a crew of 360. It has a through-deck design to maximize potential space, enabling it to
launch and retrieve its complement of 11 helicopters, with up to four helicopters on the flight deck at a time. Hyuga is also equipped with 16 Mk41
vertical-launch system cells for anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, two 20mm Phalanx cannons and two triple 12.75in torpedo mounts for self-defense.
The ships in this class also have enhanced command-and-control capabilities, allowing them to serve as flagships. The vessel can also carry out
humanitarian and disaster recovery missions in areas prone to earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and typhoons.