Asia Defense

Japan Gifts Vietnam Patrol Vessel Amid South China Sea Tensions

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Asia Defense

Japan Gifts Vietnam Patrol Vessel Amid South China Sea Tensions

The Hayato is a boost for Vietnam’s maritime security.

Japan Gifts Vietnam Patrol Vessel Amid South China Sea Tensions

Japan hands over the patrol vessel to Vietnam during a ceremony held in Hai Phong.

Credit: Government of Japan

On August 5, Japan handed over a patrol vessel to Vietnam to use for maritime patrols.

The Japan International Cooperation System handed the ship over to the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance force at a delivery ceremony in Hong Ha Shipyard in the northern port city Hai Phong.

The vessel is part of a deal involving six used vessels that Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida pledged to donate to Vietnam during an August 2014 visit to Hanoi to help strengthen maritime safety. As I have noted previously, Japan has intensified its engagement with Southeast Asian countries under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, particularly in the defense realm (See for instance: “The Future of US-Japan-Vietnam Trilateral Cooperation”).

The deal is financed through an official development assistance package worth 500 million yen ($4 million). Two of the six vessels are patrol boats of the Japanese Fisheries Agency, while the other four are commercial fishing boats.

The ship handed over last week, named Hayato, is more than 56 meters long and nine meters wide, with a gross tonnage of 1,079 metric tons and the ability to accommodate 49 crew members. Built in 1993, it has a maximum speed of 12.5 nautical miles per hour and can operate for two consecutive months without refueling. Luu Van Huy, head of the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance, told Thanh Nien News that the ship is the most advanced vessel it has ever had.

According to the Japanese embassy in Vietnam, the Hayato is the first of the ships to be delivered to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Fisheries Resources Surveillance Department but is the second delivery overall, as the first ship was delivered to the Vietnam Marine Police in February. The four remaining ships will be delivered to Vietnam later this year.

After the vessel is converted and equipped for fisheries control, it will be used by Vietnamese fisheries surveillance forces to patrol and enforce fisheries-related laws at sea. That will be a boost for Vietnam’s maritime security. Hanoi has a vast coastline stretching approximately 3,400 kilometers, and has been enduring tensions with China in the South China Sea over the past few years.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam expressed his thanks to Japan for the vessel and said that Vietnam would use it effectively and for the right purposes.