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Japan commissions 2nd Li-ion powered Taigei-class submarine Hakugei

JS Hakugei commissioning
Photo: Japan Maritime Self Defence Force

Japan has commissioned its second Taigei-class air-independent propulsion (AIP) submarine JS Hakugei (SS 514) in a ceremony at Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ Kobe yard.

The commissioning on March 20 is on schedule and comes over a year and a half after the boat was launched in October 2021.

The lead boat, JS Taigei (SS 513), entered service in March last year, while the third boat in the series, Jingei (515), was launched in October 2022.

Taigei boats retain much of the design features of their Soryu-class predecessors, with improvements in systems on board and the likely addition of pump-jet technology for propulsion. At an estimated 3,000 tons, Taigei-class boats will be 100 tons heavier than the Soryus.

Built by both Kawasaki and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the Taigei-class will have a new type of sonar system with improved detection capabilities, and a new submarine combat management system (CMS).

Their most innovative feature are the lithium-ion batteries, which store considerably more power than conventional lead-acid batteries, allowing them to spend more time submerged under water. This technology was first incorporated with the final two units of the Soryu-class.

Japan is followed in introducing this technology on its submarines by South Korea, which will incorporate its own lithium-ion technology on the future KSS-III submarines.