Japan puts first submarine running on lithium-ion batteries into service


On March 5, 2020, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) commissioned its 11th Soryu-class diesel-electric attack submarine (SSK) in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture. JS Ōryū (SS-511) joins JMSDF submarine flotilla 1, based in Kure. It is the first boat in its category to be equipped with lithium-ion batteries.

JMSDF commissioned its first Li-Ion SS-511 JS Ōryū submarine (Image source: Twitter account: kakoline125)

In a ceremony at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries shipyard in the city of Kobe, authorities welcomed the diesel-electric attack submarine Ouryu, where it will be assigned to the 1st submarine flotilla in the nearby port. by Kure.

Named JS Ōryū (with flag number SS 511), the 84m-long boat was inducted into JMSDF Sub-Flotilla 1, based in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, shortly after been delivered by the shipbuilder Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) in its facilities. in Kobe, a spokesperson for JMSDF told Jane’s the same day.

The Eleventh Sōryū (Ōryū) class submarine is the first Japanese submarine in the fleet to be equipped with lithium-ion batteries. JS Ōryū received a budget of 64.3 billion yen / 536.7 million US dollars as part of the 2015 Japanese defense budget.

Lithium-ion batteries have almost double the electrical storage capacity of traditional lead-acid batteries, and not only by replacing them in existing battery storage areas, but by adding to the already large capacity of the battery by refilling also the immense space (several hundred tons of displacement) inside the hull previously occupied by the Sterling AIP engines and their fuel cells with these new batteries, the quantity of (more powerful) batteries carried overall is massive.

This has dramatically improved underwater endurance and is considered an advantage over the slow recharge capability of the AIP system. In any event, JMSDF believes lithium-ion is the way to go and intends to “test” this new system and compare it to the previous AIP system for its operational efficiency.

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