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3 MSDF ships to leave for Indian Ocean on Sun.

TOKYO, Nov. 22 Kyodo

Three Marine Self-Defense Force (MSDF) ships will leave Japan on Sunday for the Indian Ocean to provide logistics support for the U.S. military action in Afghanistan, a Defense Agency official said Thursday.

Iwao Kitahara, head of the agency's Defense Operations Bureau, told a meeting of Liberal Democratic Party members that the three vessels will be dispatched from bases in Kanagawa, Hiroshima and Nagasaki prefectures.

The three are the supply ship Towada from the MSDF's Kure base in Hiroshima Prefecture, the minesweeper tender Uraga from the Yokosuka base in Kanagawa Prefecture and the destroyer Sawagiri from the Sasebo base in Nagasaki Prefecture.

The supply ship and the minesweeper tender will leave the bases on Sunday morning, while the destroyer will depart in the afternoon. The three will rendezvous in the sea near Japan and head to the Indian Ocean via the Malacca Strait, the official said.

The Towada, which will carry relief supplies such as tents and blankets for Afghan refugees to the port of Karachi in Pakistan, is expected to return to Japan by the end of December.

The two other ships are expected to begin logistical support to U.S. vessels in the western part of the Indian Ocean beginning early December, together with three other MSDF ships which have been dispatched to the area as an advance force for intelligence-gathering activities, the official said.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Nov 26, 2001
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