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|Aso-class patrol vessel Dewa (PL-42) (Photo: Naval News)|
Within the framework of the project, the Vietnam Coast Guard will be financially supported to build 6 patrol vessels to strengthen law enforcement and maritime rescue operations, ensuring security, maritime safety and freedom of navigation in Vietnam, Vietnamnet newspaper reported.
According to Naval News, the vessels are set to be built in Japan. JICA will provide a Japanese ODA loan of up to 36.626 billion yen ($ 350 million) for the Maritime Security and Safety Capacity Improvement Project. The 0.1% loan spans a period of 40 years with first payments due 10 years from now. The total cost of the shipbuilding program will amount to 42.542 billion yen (400 million dollars).
Construction of the vessels is set to begin next year, with the delivery of the sixth and final ship to the VCG due in October 2025. However, the Japanese shipbuilder has not yet been selected, the class of vessel selected by the VCG will likely be based on the Aso-class, a class of 79 meters patrol vessels in use by the JCG.
These patrol vessels have a high speed (over 30 knots) thanks to powerful diesel power plants and four waterjets. They are fitted with a 40mm main gun and four water cannons. The crew complement is 30 sailors. The JCG has three vessels of the Aso-class. The first one was built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries while the other two were built by Japan Marine United.
Bien Dong Sea, internationally known as South China Sea, is severely affected by natural disasters, which pose a high risk of maritime accidents, JICA said.
Vietnam has a coastline stretching from north to south, and in recent years smuggling, illegal fishing and the risk of terrorism have increased, and so strengthening maritime capability and safety is one of Vietnam’s key tasks.
The project contributes to Goals 14 and 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and contributes to the implementation of the free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy.
Upon completion of the contract, the Vietnam Coast Guard will be the largest operator of the vessels within Southeast Asia. In comparison, the Philippines Coast Guard ordered two similar patrol vessels from Japan while the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency currently operates three similar ships.
For the record, JICA signed similar agreements for the construction of patrol ships and boats for the Philippine Coast Guard in Japan under the joint Japanese-Philippine Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project (MSCIP) program. In 2016-2018, ten large 44.5-meter Parola-class patrol boats were built by Japan Maritime United for the Philippine Coast Guard under a 2013 contract worth $ 191 million.
In February 2020, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was awarded a contract worth $ 132.57 million to build two 94-meter Multi-Role Response Vessels (MRRV) patrol ships for the Philippine Coast Guard based on the Kunigami-class of the JCG, according to Naval News.
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