This Killer Japanese Submarine Has a Secret Weapon You Won't Believe

Sebastien Roblin
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Sebastien Roblin

Technology, Asia

The batteries that make it lethal.

This Killer Japanese Submarine Has a Secret Weapon You Won't Believe

The Oryu’s 672 LIB-modules reportedly afford it twice the battery life of the 480 lead-acid batteries in the prior variants—meaning it may be able to cruise for around before needing to surface. Furthermore, it can recharge its batteries much faster, meaning the sub will have brief “indiscretion periods” while recharging batteries—a decrease from 2.7 hours to 1.4 hours according to one calculation. The LI-batteries do come at a higher cost $97 million, compared to $13 million for the lead-acid batteries.

On October 4, 2018, the shattering of a bottle of sake at the Kobe Shipyards of Japan heralded not only the launch of a new submarine, but the dawning of a new era in submarine warfare—using a bit of technology you’re probably carrying in your pocket.

(This first appeared late last year.) 

The Oryu (“Phoenix Dragon”) is the eleventh launched of Japan’s Soryu (“Blue Dragon”)-class submarines—a large design measuring 84-meters long that carries a crew of sixty-five and displaces 4,519 tons submerged. In many respects, the Soryu’s capabilities are typical of conventional submarines: it’s armed with six 533-millimeter tubes which can fire up to thirty Type 89 torpedoes or Harpoon anti-ship missiles and has a top underwater speed of twenty knots. Its range of 6,100 nautical miles lags a bit behind peers, while its maximum diving depth of 600 meters or greater is well above average, exceeding the crush depth of some anti-submarine torpedoes!

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