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Japan commissions its first lithium-ion battery powered submarine

JS Oryu
Photo: JMSDF

The Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) has commissioned its eleventh diesel-electric Soryu-class submarine JS Oryu (SS-511).

While being the eleventh in its class, the submarine is the first to feature lithium-ion batteries, unlike its predecessors that rely on the conventional lead-acid batteries.

The main benefit of the lithium-ion batteries is that they store considerably more power, allowing the Oryu and all future boats in the class to spend more time submerged under water.

The lithium-ion battery technology for submarines is also being embraced by South Korea, which will incorporate its own lithium-ion technology on the future KSS-III submarines.

JS Oryu (SS-511) was launched in October 2018, by shipbuilder Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI). The Soryu-class of 15 planned submarines is being delivered by MHI and compatriot shipbuilder Kawasaki Heavy Industries.

Japan’s 2,950-ton submarines are propelled by a Diesel-Stirling-electric main engine and feature air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems, which help them stay under water for weeks, without having to surface. They are armed with torpedoes and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.