During the late 1970s, the Japanese government embarked on a new group of guided-missile destroyer warships recognized as the Hatsuyuki-class. This led to a construction period spanning from 1979 until 1986 that resulted in twelve ships completed to the same standard. The class was led by JS Hatsuyuki (DD-122) and all in the class were conventionally powered of relatively traditional design arrangement. Hatsuyuki DD-122 was laid down by Sumitomo Heavy Industries at Uraga on March 14th, 1979 and launched on November 7th, 1980. She was commissioned for service on March 23rd, 1982, home-porting out of the Yokosuka Naval Base.
The warship led an active service life until decommissioned on June 25th, 2010. The Hatsuyuki-class guided missile destroyers superseded the Yamagumo-class destroyers which were built from 1964 into 1977 and were in commission from 1966 until 2006 with six units completed.
The Hatsuyuki-class was the first in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) to feature an all-gas turbine powerplant as well as the first outfitted with the American Harpoon anti-ship and "Sea Sparrow" (improved) anti-aircraft missile systems - now staples of current Japanese warships. In all respects these additions broadened the tactical and strategic value of the class and offered the JMSDF a potent ocean-going vessel in the region. Despite their local classification of destroyer, Western sources considered these ships to be more akin to frigates.
As designed, the Hatsuyuki-class was given a displacement of 3,100 tons under standard load and 4,065 tons under full load. Overall length reached 430 feet with a beam measuring 44.6 feet and a draught of 13.8 feet. Installed power was 2 x Kawasaki (Rolls-Royce) Olympus TM3B gas turbines offering 45,000 horsepower output with 2 x Kawasaki (Rolls-Royce) RM1C gas turbines rated at 9,900 horsepower output. These drove two shafts under stern and were arranged in a COGOG (COmbined Gas Or Gas) arrangement for improved efficiency in cruising and dash actions. The warship could make headway at 30 knots.
Aboard was a crew of 200 and installed systems included the OPS-14 air-search radar, the OPS-18 surface-search radar and the OQS-4 hull-mounted sonar (a towed array was added in 1994). A completed Electronic Warfare (EW) fit was also carried.
Armament was a mix of projectile- and missile-based technologies. There was a 76mm OTO-Breda turreted deck gun over the forecastle and 2 x Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers in 4-cell installations. The Mark 29 launcher served the Sea Sparrow missiles. An ASROC (Anti-Submarine ROCket) launcher countered submarine threats to an extent and close-in defense from aerial attack was made possible by 2 x 20mm Phalanx Gatling-style gun platforms (added to the class across a 1982-1996 revision). Like other JMSDF warships, the Hatsuyuki was equipped with 2 x 324mm HOS-301 triple torpedo tubes.
To further accentuate the offensive capabilities of the class, a flight deck was added over the stern. This was used in supporting a single Sikorsky SH-60J(K) Seahawk naval helicopter equipped for the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) role. In addition to hunting submarines, the helicopter could also be used as a spotting platform, reconnaissance platform or a general eyes-in-the-skies platform. Indeed the primary role of the Hatsuyuki-class was submarine hunting. The addition of a helipad also made the class the first JMSDF warship to be able to field an ASW-minded helicopter.
In profile, the maindeck ran unbroken from the bow to the stern. The 76mm turreted deck gun was seated overlooking the bow with good firing angles about the hull. The bridge superstructure was aft of the ASROC launcher unit and also supported the lattice-style main mast. The mast contained the various systems including the radar antenna and was closely defended by the twin CIWS installations. The low profile smoke funnels sat at midships with the secondary hull superstructure fitted aft. The fire control radome was atop this structure. The flight deck was sat over the main deck at the stern with a quarter deck section mounting the Sea Sparrow unit.
Hatsuyuki's sisters were commissioned from 1982 into 1987 and DD-122, DD-123, DD-124, DD-125, DD-126, DD-127 and DD-128 were all decommissioned from 2010 to 2014. DD-129, DD-130, DD-131, DD-132 and DD-133 all remain in active service as of this writing (December 2017).
DD-123, DD-129, DD-131, and DD-133 were all revised to become training vessels at various times and these were given new hull numbers of TV-3517, TV-3519, TV-3518 and TV-3513 respectively. This meant a classroom and other modifications made to the base design to fit the role.