Story and photos by Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan (Oct. 14, 2016) – The Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) team at Yokosuka brought a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces (JMSDF) vessel into and out of dry dock for maintenance.
The ship, JS Enshu (AMS 4305), is the fifth and last Hiuchi class auxiliary multi-purpose support ship. The ship was dry-docked Sept. 29 and returned to sea Oct. 14.
“It was my first experience to work with the SRF team,” said Lt. Cmdr. Koji Koyanagi, Enshu’s captain. “The dry-docking went very well. To my surprise, each SRF team member has a lot more work and responsibilities. It was also my first experience to see a tugboat bringing the ship into the dock itself. It was amazing.”
According to Masaki Fukuda, the dock master and a naval architecture engineer, members of the docking office, carpenter shop, dock maintenance and forklift operation section, lifting and handling department, and dive locker all need to coordinate docking evolutions to make them successful.
Fleet Activities Yokosuka port operations’ pusher boats, beaver boat and tugboat supported the operation with caisson towing, dry-docking and undocking. During the approximately two weeks of Enshu’s dry-docking, it underwent semi-overhaul and inspection as scheduled.
Enshu is a JMSDF Yokosuka District’s counterpart to the Powhatan-class fleet ocean tug. Its keel was laid, Dec. 19, 2006, and it was commissioned, Feb. 20, 2008. This multi-purpose ship supports training exercises, tows inoperable or target ships, carries ships’ cargo, and conducts firefighting and rescuing services. For the purpose of supporting firing exercises, the vessel carries BURRACUDA, an Unmanned Surface Vehicle-Target.
One of the ship’s advantages is its power. According to Koyanagi, Enshu can push and pull JMDF destroyers.
The names of JMSDF’s Hiuchi class AMSs originate from the name Nada, which means a rough and open sea in Japanese. In the case of Enshu, it derives from Enshu-Nada, the rough sea which starts from Omaezaki in Shizuoka to Iragomisaki in Aichi. Enshu was used for the first time for a name of a ship since the establishment Imperial Japanese navy.