As part of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (JMSDF) Indo-Pacific deployment this year, the service’s largest flattop, the first-of-class JS Izumo, will make a port call in Vietnam this month, according to a JMSDF press statement.
The port call of Japan’s most powerful surface combatant is a sign of the slowly expanding Japanese naval presence in Southeast Asia and highlights the continuing military links between Japan and Vietnam as part of their so-called extensive strategic partnership.
The JMSDF statement does not offer a specific date for the visit nor mentions the port, although it is assumed to be Cam Ranh Bay, situated on the southeastern coast of Vietnam, and home to a naval maintenance and logistics facility.
This would not be the first visit of the JS Izumo to Vietnam. The warship arrived in Cam Ranh Bay in May 2017 to participate in the U.S.-led Pacific Partnership (PP17) mission, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) preparedness exercise conducted in the Asia-Pacific region.
The exercise was hosted by Vietnam. During the JS Izumo’s port call, its state-of-the-art medical facilities were shown to military officials and media representatives.
The Izumo carrier group consists of the Murasame-class destroyers, JS Murasame and JS Akebone, as well as five military aircraft.
The JS Izumo’s deployment began April 30 and runs through July 10. During its deployment, the Japanese warship are engaging with the maritime forces of Brunei, the Philippines, and Singapore, next to others.
The Indo-Japanese drill was preceded by a JMSDF-U.S Navy cooperative deployment in the Malacca Strait involving the USS William P. Lawrence, a U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, the JS Izumo, and the JS Murasame on May 22.
The two JMSDF warships also participated in a multilateral naval engagement between May 2 and May 8 in the South China Sea.
The helicopter carrier JS Izumo is the lead ship of the Izumo-class. On May 28, U.S. President Donald Trump toured the JS Izumo’s sister ship, JS Kaga, at the Yokosuka naval base south of Tokyo, together with his Japanese counterpart, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“The JS Kaga sailed through a vast area from the western Pacific through the Indian Ocean last year, to deepen the cooperation with navies of regional partners in close coordination with the U.S. Navy,” the prime minister said in a speech aboard the JS Kaga at the time.
“Our mission is to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific, and to establish a foundation for regional peace and prosperity.”
The two Izumo-class flattops are slated to converted into full-fledged aircraft carriers capable of launching the F-35B, the vertical or short takeoffs and vertical landings (STOVL) variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.