Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR March 2017 Contents The work is being undertaken at Sevmash in
Varyag - a conventionally powered cruiser of
project 1164 with a full displacement of 11,280t –
ser ves as the flagship of the Pacific Fleet. She went
into commission in 1988. Her sister ship Marshal
Ustinov has just completed a major overhaul at
Zvezdochka in Severodvinsk and is likely to be
ferried to the Pacific.
The JMSDF has 27 destroyers each with a full
displacement between 6,000 and 10,000t. This
compares to five operational Russian ships of similar
size. Of Project 956 destroyers (8,000t) only one -
Bystryi remains operational, while the other two are
in reser ve. The availability of the Sovremenny class
has been low due to underfunding and neglect,
resulting in degraded performance of their high-
pressure steam boilers. The navy plans to complete
repairs and lifetime extension on two hulls by 2020.
Turbine-powered Project 1155 (7,480t) large
antisubmarine ships (thus classified since they
were designed for anti-submarine rather than anti-
shipping operations as the Project 956) have
proved more robust and able to survive poor
maintenance. Four - Vinogradov, Tributs, Panteleyev
and Shaposhnikov - remain operational in the
Pacific. Together with the Boris Butoma fleet oiler,
Tributs took part in the recent Russo-Japanese joint
exercises centering on rescue operations at sea.
She engaged with Japanese warships after a visit
to Manila and Indra Navy 2016 exercises with the
Indian navy. The Russian navy has recently declared
plans for lifetime extension and modernization of five
Project 1155 ships with the Northern and Pacific
Fleets out of eight currently in active service (and
production run of twelve).
The JMSDF has ten frigates ( "small destroyers")
each with a full displacement between 4,000 and
4,600t and six corvettes ( "destroyer escorts")
of 2,500t plus six large training ships (largely
converted or derived from destroyers and frigates).
Respective Russian assets are smaller in size. The
Pacific Fleet runs eight anti-submarine corvettes
of Project 1124 (1,120t), four missile corvettes
of Project 12341 (700t) and 11 missile boats
(450-550t). A modern missile cor vette of project
20380 – Sovershennyi of 1,700t - is soon to be
declared operational. She is to become the first
large surface warship to enter the Pacific Fleet in
post-Soviet times. Two more such corvettes are
under construction, plus five being planned for
lay-down at the shipbuilding plant in Komsomolsk-
JMSDF has three Ōsumi-class landing ships
displacing 14,000t. Similarly sized Alexander
Nikolaev of 14,060t is in the Pacific Fleet's reser ve,
with the navy deciding whether to restore or scrap
her. Active assets include four Project 775/1171
landing ships with a full displacement of 4,400t.
These are often employed to resupply garrisons
on remote islands and sometimes join the Syrian
Express (carrying equipment and munitions from
Black Sea ports to Tartus and Latakia).
The United States of America considers that the
“ Northern territories” belong to Japan, but since they
are not administered by the Japanese government,
article 5 of the U.S .- Japan defense treaty of 1960
does not apply to them. The U.S . maintains that
until a peace treaty between Japan and Russia
is concluded, the disputed Northern Territories
remains Japanese territory under Russian control.
The defense treaty between Washington and
Tokyo provides the legal basis for U.S . military
bases on Japanese soil. Today, about 17 percent
of Okinawa still remains under U.S . occupation,
with a large base located there. This island in the
East China Sea hosts the bulk of the nearly 50,000
American military personnel stationed in Japan.
It was exactly the matter of U.S . military presence
that the Soviet government drew attention to in
1956, when it welcomed Japanese envoys to
Moscow. The Kremlin suggested Tokyo curtail ties
with Washington in the defense area and become a
neutral, peaceful country steering clear of alliances
with nuclear superpowers. In return for bona-fide
neutrality, Moscow was ready to pass Habomai
and Shikotan over to the Japanese government.
Such was the gist of the Soviet-Japanese Joint
Declaration 1956. By signing the defense treaty
with the U.S . four years later, Tokyo chose with
whom to go.
Agreements between Washington and Tokyo
are of such a nature that U.S . forces can build
and operate military bases on Japanese territory.
Commitments such as this are fraught with
consequences over the long term, about which the
Kremlin warned Japanese envoys more than sixty
The composition and equipment of Japanese and Russian forces
are vastly different. Russia deploys less aircraft and warships in
the area, but is superior in missiles. Additionally, it possesses a
powerful strategic nuclear deterrent capability, whereas the JSDF is
not allowed to have them by then nature of Japan's constitution.
44 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter MAR 2017
The bridge of the A.Korolyov weapons supply ship which
was commissioned in early 2016, now in service with the
Pacific Fleet. Credit: V Karnozov
24/02/2017 2:49 PM
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