After a tip-off from Surveillance To Go Nowhere blogger @JS_Susumu, here is a translation of Sankei‘s report on a collision between JS Kuroshima and a civilian fishing boat:

MSDF Minesweeper Bumps into Fishing Boat off Awaji Island – No-one injured

JS Kuroshima (MSC-692) Minesweeper

JS Kuroshima (MSC-692) Minesweeper (Source: MoD)

At around 9 a.m., June 20th, at sea 700 meters off Ura, Awaji Island, Hyogo Prefecture, a Maritime Self-Defense Force minesweeper from Sub Area Activity Okinawa, MSDF Sasebo District, JS Kuroshima (510 tonnes) made contact with the Sumiyoshi Maru (2.5 tonnes), a fishing boat belonging to Kyōsei Ōnishi from Akashi. Hyogo Prefecture. There no injuries and no oil leaked.

According to the Kobe Branch of the Coast Guard, the starboard stern of the Kuroshima and the bow of the fishing boat scraped against each other. They are currently investigating the cause of the incident.

This comes only a month after the acquittal of the two MSDF officers on watch during the 2008 collision of the JS Atago and a fishing boat off Chiba that resulted in the death of two fishermen. While this incident is minor by comparison, it will do little to help the MSDF’s poor track record of avoiding such collisions, as a Yomiuri editorial discussed last month:

JS Atago (DDG-177) with sunken wreckage of the Seitoku Maru, 2008

JS Atago (DDG-177) with sunken wreckage of the Seitoku Maru, 2008 (Source: Mainichi)

The Atago is a state-of-the-art Aegis-equipped destroyer that entered into service about one year before the collision, and was equipped with the top-level radar system.

No matter how superbly it was equipped, a vessel may end up being involved in an accident if crew members neglect their fundamental duties to ensure safe navigation. That lesson should be learned from the case.

The collision occurred in waters crowded with vessels off Boso Peninsula in Chiba Prefecture. To prevent a similar accident, how MSDF ships navigate in such waters as well as the rules of the sea must be thoroughly discussed.

Besides this case, the MSDF has been involved in a number of other incidents, such as the leakage of classified information of the Aegis naval air defense system and a fire on a destroyer where it was at anchor. These incidents led to a large number of MSDF officers being punished.

The MSDF is in the process of recovering the public’s trust.

Now that the court has handed down its ruling, it is time for the MSDF to consider putting its members through a more stringent retraining process.

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A former contributor to World Intelligence (Japan Military Review), James Simpson joined Japan Security Watch in 2011, migrating with his blog Defending Japan. He has a Masters in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and is currently living in Kawasaki, Japan. His primary interests include the so-called 'normalization' of Japanese security (i.e. militarization), and the political impact of the abduction issue with North Korea.
James Simpson has 254 post(s) on Japan Security Watch