Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Japan to buy tanker to fuel patrol ships in East China Sea

Reuters, TOKYO

The Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces wants to buy its first oil tanker to carry fuel to Okinawa as it cranks up operations in the East China Sea to counter a growing Chinese naval presence, two sources familiar with plan said.

It needs a tanker able to carry 300,000 barrels of fuel to White Beach port on Okinawa, where it stores fuel for warships that patrol the region.

The plan is to be included in a defense review outlining equipment procurement for the five years beginning in April next year, the sources said.

“It takes too long time for ships to return to their base in [mainland] Kyushu for refueling, so more are stopping in Okinawa instead,” said one of the sources, who asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to talk to the media.

Operations in the East China Sea, where Taiwan, Japan and China are locked in a territorial dispute over the ownership of a group of islands claimed as the Senkaku Islands in Tokyo and the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) in Taipei and Beijing, are intensifying as China’s military strength there grows.

“Activity at White Beach has increased by three to four times, but there isn’t enough space to expand capacity,” said the other source, who had just returned from a visit there.

The White Beach facility is supplied by commercial shippers that usually take two months to complete deliveries once a contract is agreed.

However, management of the fuel dump has become difficult as the pace of naval operations increase, making it more difficult for the forces to forecast future demand.

The tanker is expected to cost “several tens of billions of yen” and will have a crew of up to 20 sailors, the sources said.

A spokesman for Japanese Ministry of Defense declined to comment.

This story has been viewed 1323 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top