The Japan Coast Guard said Monday it has finished deploying 12 ships assigned exclusively to patrolling areas around the Senkaku Islands amid China's growing assertiveness in the East China Sea.

The 10 new 1,500-ton patrol ships and two helicopter-equipped patrol vessels will become fully operational this month as part of efforts to strengthen protection of waters off the uninhabited islets that are claimed by both China and Taiwan.

After tensions heightened with China following the Japanese government's purchase of most of the islands from a private Japanese owner in September 2012, the Coast Guard's 11th regional headquarters, which is based in Okinawa and oversees the area, has received help from other regions to patrol the Senkakus.