JMSDF (Cold War Japanese Navy)

The Japanese Navy in 1945:

Of the immense fleet of the Second World War, the third largest in the world, only minor units remained. The steamer of the US Navy had rolled its manpower whose last units were deprived of fuel and immobilized. It was these last ships that survived the air raids that formed the basis of the new Japanese self-defense force under the authority of Douglas MacArthur, with a focus on the major geostrategic issue of the Soviet Pacific fleet. As a result, far from being a modest fleet of coast guards and fishery guardians, the new MSDF eventually had an impressive potential. Currently, the Nippon Navy ranks just third, behind the former Soviet fleet, and in front of the British fleet, a level it could never reach in the days of militarism and virulent nationalism. Strange destiny for a “self-defense” force …

The remains of “Nihon Kaigun” in 1945:

Of the huge fleet of 1941, there were no longer any ships of the line, nor cruiser, and only three destroyers, class Akizuki, and two carriers, the old Hosho (1922), demobilized, and the Katsuragi, well more recent (1944). These five units were taken into account by the new Ministry of the Navy, the second ministry of demobilization. These ships for a few years skim the islands of the Pacific to bring home isolated Japanese garrisons. They were later retired in 1947 and demolished. The remainder of these surviving numbers consisted of coastal and light units, 53 minesweepers, former wooden submarine hunters (Cha type), and 12 light patrol boats, designed to serve as post-war trawlers. They were assisted by high-sea patrol boats (Ukuru class) serving as supply vessels. The main role they were given was to clear Japanese waters of the 100,000 mines originally intended to block a US landing in January 1946. This force was incorporated into what was then known as the Maritime Safety Agency with two sections and to their heads, Admiral Yashio Yamamoto and Captain Tamura.

Under Article 9 of the new constitution, no military intervention force could be mobilized and the right to armed action to settle a different international could not be tolerated. However, from that time this principle was amended, if it were not to allow Japan, a maritime power, to guard its territorial waters and exercise a police role of traffic and fishing, but also later to face the Soviet threat. By the time the Japanese shipyards, largely bombed and devastated, were again operational, the US Navy transferred some vessels to the JMSDF (Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force), which was founded in 1954. The maritime security agency became the main force. of Japanese Coast Guard, modeled on the US Coast Guard. From this date, the reorganized shipyards would be able to build a fleet of larger units.

Balance sheet for 1960:

-19 Destroyers:
The big Akizuki (1941) having been scrapped there was only the only Wakaba, ex-Nashi, an escort destroyer of the class Tachibana (1945). It remained in service until 1972. Soon the US Navy transferred two Benson / Gleaves class destroyers in 1954 (Asakaze and Hatakaze) and two others of the Fletcher class (Ariake and Yugure). They remained in operation until 1969 and 1974 respectively. The shipyards then issued the first class of Japanese post-war destroyers, the Harukaze. To these two ships succeeded the 7 Ayanami, heavier, then the 3 Murasame and the two Akizuki. All were in service in 1960. They were classic buildings with artillery.

-23 Frigates:
The first were two acquisitions of the US Navy (Type GMT or Cannon class), the Asahi and Hatsuhi. They were operational from 1855 to 1975, soon joined by the first “escorts”, the Akebono, turbine and the two diesel Ikazuchi. But it was mostly the 18 class Tacoma frigates (Kusu) transferred in 1953 and operational until 1970-73.

-50 Assault ships:
These were 49 ex-US LSSLs, which had their rocket launchers removed from fire support and were using their light support artillery (Ajisai class). They were retired for many, and all in 1961. There was also the Yorikutei type LSM, an old ship that served first under the French flag in Indochina.

-2 Submarines:
After the transfer of the USS Mingo (Gato class) in 1955, under the name of Kuroshio, Japan launched its first classic attack submarine, the Oyashio in 1959.

-66 Patrollers/minesweepers:
Classes Awaji, Reburn, Chifuri, and Yahagi, built from 1951. There were also the 12 Ukishima, dating from 1945 and partially rebuilt, and the small Yuhibari, former auxiliary SM hunters of 1945, with 26 units survivors in 1960 (about to retire after their long demining work).

-17 Minesweepers:
There were the Ukuru, 5 former 1944 high-sea patrolmen reused as tankers and minesweepers. They were scrapped in 1963-66. From 1955, the Americans delivered 9 YMS (Etajima class), 4 AMS / MSC (Yashima class) and Yashiro delivered the Yashiro in 1956, and the two Atada, larger ones. In addition, the Erimo, a wet smuggler / deep sea minesweeper was issued in 1955 and Tsugaru, a cable dragger / dredger in 1955.

-10 Sub hunters:
They were the 7 Kamomes, very inspired by the 1955-56 PC-Boats, the 1957 Great Hayabusa and the 1959 Umitaka.

-9 MTBs:
Type 1 and No. 7 and 8 (type 7) and No. 9 English origin.

-20 Coastguards:
18 patrol boats of the 18 foot type were transferred in 1955, followed by the construction of the two Muroto class coastguard patrol boats (within the ASM – Maritime Safety Agency or MSA).


  • Aircraft carrier 3
  • Cruisers 1
  • Destroyers 18
  • Submarines 21
  • Frigates 9
  • Corvettes 17
  • Mine hunters 17
  • Other 34

The JMSDF in 1990

The reboot of Japanese industry giants was quickly followed by a massive rearmament less and less under American supervision and more through a blue water politic. Past the 2000s this move was even more compelling with a more agressive naval policy, in particular directed against the rapid rise of the PLAN (Chinese Naval Forces). A supplementary proof of this return of strenght if needs be was the launch of “helicopter destroyers” of the the Izumo and Hyuga classes. The move started by the AEGIS-capable Kongo class destroyers.

Harukaze class Destroyers
Ayanami class Destroyers
Murasame class Destroyers
Akizuki class Destroyers
Akebono/Ikazuchi class frigates
Kusu class frigates
Oyashio class Submarines
Ajisai class Landing Ships
Awaji class Patrol boats
Redburn class Patrol boats
Chifuri class patrol boats
Yahagi class patrol boats
Ukishima class Minesweepers
Yuhibari class Minesweepers
Ukuru class Minesweepers
Yashiro/Atada class Minesweepers
Type 1 class MTBs
Muroto class Coast Guards

The JMSDF in details, ship by ship








Kusu class Patrol Ship

Isuzu class Frigates

Kurushio – Gato class Submarine USS