Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has launched the first of a new class of diesel-electric attack submarines (SSKs) for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) equipped with lithium-ion batteries.
The new 3,000-tonne submarine, which has been named Taigei (with pennant number SS 513), entered the water on 14 October in a ceremony held at MHI’s facilities in Kobe City.
According to the JMSDF, the new boat has a crew complement of about 70, an overall length of 84 m, a beam of 9.1 m, a draught of 10.4 m, and a standard displacement of about 3,000 tonnes, meaning that it is almost the same size as the Soryu-class SSKs, which are 84 m long, 9.1 m wide, 10.3 m depth, and have a standard displacement of 2,950 tonnes.
Taigei means ‘big whale’ in Japanese and was the name borne by a submarine tender in the Imperial Japanese Navy.
The new boat, which is expected to enter service in March 2022, has also been referred to as ‘29SS’. This designation refers to the year ‘Heisei 29’ in the Japanese calendar (2017 in the Gregorian calendar).
The new submarine, which cost about JPY80 billion (USD758.7 million) to build, is powered by a diesel-electric engine generating 6,000 hp.
The JMSDF said that the new boat is equipped with lithium-ion batteries in place of lead-acid ones, just like the final two of 12 Soryu-class boats for the JMSDF: Oryu (SS 511) and Toryu (SS 512). Oryu was commissioned in March 2020 while Toryu is expected to enter service in March 2021.