Japan launches Hakugei, the second Taigei-class submarine

Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) has launched the second of a new Taigei-class, the latest class of advanced diesel-electric submarines for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). Named Hakugei, or White Whale, the new submarine was launched at Kawasaki Heavy Industries shipyard in the city of Kobe.

The construction of the second Taigei-class submarine began in January 2019. It will now undergo final construction and sea trials before commissioning into the JMSDF, which is scheduled for March 2023.

The Hakugei is a 3,000-ton, diesel-electric attack submarine measuring 84 meters (275 feet) long, 9.1 meters wide, and designed for long-range operations in the Pacific. It was previously known as the 29SS class, named after the 29th year of Emperor Akihito’s reign in Japan.

Japan launched the first of the new diesel-electric submarine class, the Taigei, in October 2020 and began sea trials in July this year and is expected to be commissioned in March 2022.

The Taigei class is a new class of attack submarines developed as a successor to the Sōryū class. These class submarines are equipped with a large amount of lithium-ion batteries, as is the case with the last two submarines of the Sōryū class (Ōryū and Tōryū), making it possible for the submersible to travel longer and at higher speeds underwater than conventional diesel-electric submarines.

The use of lithium-ion batteries on submarines is believed to require less maintenance and is capable of longer endurance at high speeds while submerged compared to lead-acid batteries. They allow to increase the cruising range of submarines and free up part of the internal space.

It also has a variety of automated systems, improved surveillance capabilities using high-performance sonar, increased stealth capabilities, enhanced safety measures, and woman-only facilities.

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