Japan welcomes lithium-ion battery powered submarine into service

Japan welcomes its first submarine powered by lithium-ion batteries into service that provides longer endurance at speeds up to 20 knots while submerged

  • Ouryu is Japan’s first lithium-ion battery powered submarine
  • The vessel was welcome into service last week, but first launched in 2018
  • It hit speeds of 20 knots while submerged and 13 knots on the surface

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has introduced a new submarine to its fleet that runs on lithium-ion batteries.

The vessel, named Ouryu, launched in 2018 but was recently welcomed into service at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) shipyard in Kobe last week.

It is the first Japanese submarine to use the technology, which requires less maintenance and allows for longer endurance at high speeds of 20 knots while submerged compared to lead-acid batteries.

The Ouryu is the sixth Soryu-class boat to be built by MHI and is 276 feet long, 2,950-pound submarine that supports a crew of 65 people and carries up to 30 21-inch heavyweight torpedoes.

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The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has introduced a new submarine to its fleet that runs on lithium-ion batteries. The vessel, named Ouryu, launched in 2018 but was recently welcomed into service at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) shipyard in Kobe last week

Ouryu was christened in June of 2018, but was recently brought into service on Thursday, March 5, 2020, according to DefenseNews.

Although is similar in look to the Soryu class, but Ouryu and the upcoming Toryu submarine use lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide, or NCA, batteries.

Masao Kobayashi, former head of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s submarine fleet, said that this technology requires less maintenance and provides longer endurance at high speeds while submerged compared to lead-acid batteries.

However, he also noted that Ouryu cost $608 million compared to the $488 million to build those without the batteries.

Ouryu was christened in June of 2018 (pictured), but was recently brought into service on Thursday, March 5, 2020. The technology requires less maintenance and provides longer endurance at high speeds while submerged compared to lead-acid batteries

Japan first introduced lithium-ion batteries into its submarines back in 2002 and began testing the technology in 2006.

In other news, the US Navy is developing a different submarine that is controlled by artificial intelligence that could kill without human control or input.

The project is being run by the Office of Naval Research and has been described as an ‘autonomous undersea weapon system’ according to a report by New Scientist.

Details of the killer submersible were made available as part of the 2020 budget documents, which also revealed it has been named CLAWS by the US Navy.

Very few details about the ‘top secret’ project have been revealed beyond the fact it will use sensors and algorithms to carry out complex missions on its own.

It’s expected CLAWS will be installed on the new Orca class robot submarines that have 12 torpedo tubes and are being developed for the Navy by Boeing.

The navy has not revealed what CLAWS stands for or commented on the story, the only information is what has been released to congress in the budget documents.

They are set to be armed with 12 torpedo tubes and with CLAWS they could be used to sink targets on their own without input from a human, New Scientist reports.

 

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