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2 MSDF destroyers depart for antipiracy operations off Somalia

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Two Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers left Sasebo base in Nagasaki Prefecture on Wednesday to take over antipiracy operations off Somalia from two other MSDF destroyers that were dispatched to the area earlier.

The deployment of the Kirisame and the Yudachi, which both have a displacement capacity of 4,550 tons, is authorized under a law allowing MSDF warships to escort commercial vessels sailing under any flag.

A total of about 390 MSDF personnel and eight Japan Coast Guard officers are aboard the two destroyers. The destroyers will replace the 4,650-ton Makinami and the 3,500-ton Setogiri that have been operating in the area since mid-September.

Before the departure, Vice Adm. Koji Kato read a message from Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa.

Around 2,000 commercial ships with ties to Japan, including Japanese-flagged ships and foreign-registered ships operated by Japanese companies, sail through the waters off Somalia each year.

Piracy is rampant in the Gulf of Aden and off the eastern coast of Somalia, where armed groups have hijacked ships and demanded huge ransoms in exchange for the release of the vessels and their crew.

Source: Japan to Day