The ships belong to the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force Training Squadron and are visiting as part of a 5-month global deployment.
The squadron comprises training vessel Japanese Defence Ship (JDS) Kashima, 2 destroyers – JDS Shirayuki and JDS Isoyuki, and 180 cadets.
After anchoring in the Solent overnight on Sunday, 21 July, the vessels arrived in the naval base on Monday, with JDS Kashima firing a 21-gun salute as she approached Southsea. The saluting gun at Fort Blockhouse, Gosport, responded in similar fashion.
The cadets’ stay in Portsmouth includes visiting the Royal Navy’s marine and air engineering facilities at HMS Sultan in Gosport, and experiencing operations room and bridge simulators at HMS Collingwood in Fareham.
More recently, we have worked together on counter-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean and we share common equipment such as the Merlin helicopter.
While we may be separated by geography, we are joined by the sea and, just as importantly, by our similar ethos and doctrine. This visit is eagerly anticipated by the Royal Navy and the interaction of the Japanese cadets with our young officers at Sultan and Collingwood will be one of many highlights.
Rear Admiral Fumiyuki Kitagawa, who is embarked on JDS Kashima, said:
Japan and Great Britain have a history going back hundreds of years. The Royal Navy was the model for the foundation of the Japanese Navy so we are very pleased to be here. One of our first priorities is to absorb a bit of history by going around HMS Victory and the capital, London.
The public can also get involved with the visit by climbing on board JDS Isoyuki when she opens up her gangway free of charge to visitors on Wednesday 24 July between 10am and 4pm. And the squadron’s embarked 40-strong military band will be performing the same day next to HMS Victory between 12:30pm and 1:30pm.
The squadron – which last visited Portsmouth in 2008 – departs at 9am on Thursday 25 July.