Japan has unveiled the first of a new class of its diesel-electric submarine fleet, currently under construction, as part of efforts to boost the country’s maritime security amid China’s growing assertiveness in the region. Named the Taigei, the new submarine was launched at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries shipyard in the city of Kobe.
The development of the Taigei submarine has been carried out within the framework of the 29SS class project as a successor class to Japan’s current Soryu-class boats. The design of the new boat is very similar to the Soryu class.
The Taigei is a 3,000-ton diesel-electric attack submarine with a length of 84 meters and a width of 9.1 meters and can accommodate a crew of 70. It is equipped with lithium-ion batteries, similar to the two last built Soryu-class submarines – the Oryu (SS-511) and Toryu (SS-512). According to the developers, the use of lithium-ion batteries on board submarines requires less maintenance and is capable of longer endurance at high speeds while submerged, compared to lead-acid batteries. In addition, the submarine is armed with six 533mm tube launchers for torpedoes and cruise missiles.
A distinctive feature of the new Japanese submarine is the reduced size of the wheelhouse, partially integrated into the ship’s hull. This should reduce the hydrodynamic resistance when driving in a submerged position and, as a consequence, reduce the consumption of battery charge.
Some 150 people, including Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and MSDF Chief of Staff Hiroshi Yamamura, attended a ceremony held at Mitsubishi Heavy’s Kobe Shipyard in Hyogo Prefecture.
After launching, the Taigei will undergo a series of tests and sea trials before it is commissioned into the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) in 2022. When operational, the submarine will become the 22nd ship in the Japanese defense fleet, but the first in the new Taigei-class category.