The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has introduced a first of its class 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, a 2,950-pound submarine that supports a crew of 65 people and carries up to 30 21-inch heavyweight torpedoes.
The former head of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s submarine fleet, Masao Kobayashi, said that this technology requires lower maintenance and provides effective 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.
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.