The modern Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) adopted the Abukuma-class warship to succeed it aging line of Yubari-class vessels. The Yubari-class, itself chosen to succeed the Ishikari-class, numbered two in all and were used in the destroyer escort role for their time at sea (both since decommissioned from service). The Abukuma-class, led by JS Abukuma (DE-229) herself, are also classified by the JMSDF as destroyer escorts but are seen as corvettes and even guided-missile frigates in other sources.
The Abukuma-class was originally planned as an eleven-strong group but, before the end, only six were completed and the remaining five cancelled. The group was constructed by Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Company Ltd and Sumitomo Heavy Idustries Ltd from the period spanning 1988 until 1991. The group has been in commissioned service since 1989 and all six of the completed ships remain active.
As destroyer escorts, their primary purpose is convoy, merchant, and fleet support and these vessels are designed for Blue Water service away from friendly shores. An Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capability is in-built and Electronic Warfare (EW) is all-modern. The vessels also marked the first JMSDF ships to feature stealth design qualities for basic radar avoidance at range.
As designed, JS Abukuma was given a displacement of 2,000 tons under standard load and up to 2,550 tons under full load. Overall length is 357 feet with a beam measuring 44 feet and a draught of just 12 feet. The propulsion scheme involves a CODOG - "COmbined Diesel Or Gas" - arrangement seeing 2 x Kawasaki-RR SM1A gas turbines, outputting 26,650 horsepower, mated to 2 x Mitsubishi S12U MTK marine diesels of 6,000 horsepower. This allows the warship to make headway at 27 knots in ideal conditions.
Aboard is a crew of 120 personnel. The FCS-2 is the shipborne Fire-Control System (FCS) installed to deal with ranged threats and this relies on a Passive, Electronically-Scanned Array (PESA) radar system. Beyond that, the vessel is outfitted with the usual self-survival measures and sensor equipment common to modern ocean-going ships (OPS-14 air-search radar, OPS-28 surface-search radar, Mk 36 SRBOC chaff-flare launcher, OQS-8 hull-mounted sonar).
The armament fit is led by the 1 x 76mm OTO-Breda turreted deck gun in the "A" position over the forecastle. The primary missile armament is 8 x "Harpoon" anti-ship missiles fitted in two 4-cell launchers. Close-in defense is through the proven 20mm Phalanx digital system and the vessel's armament suite is rounded out with 2 x 324mm (12.8") triple torpedo tubes (HOS-301 series) and an Anti-Submarine ROCket launcher.
JS Abukuma was laid down on March 17th, 1988 and launched to sea on December 21st, 1988. She was formally commissioned on December 12thm 1989 and makes her homeport out of Maizuru of Kyoto Prefecture with quick access to the Sea of Japan. She carries the name of a World War 2-era cruiser - as do all of her sisters.