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Japan Launches New Submarine Class

Japan has launched the first of 3,000-ton Taigei class diesel-electric submarines, which will complete the U.S. ally’s planned expansion of its submarine fleet to 22 boats when it enters service.

The new submarine was launched at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries shipyard in the city of Kobe on Wednesday. It is the first of a successor class to Japan’s current Soryu-class boats.

The Taigei is an attack submarine measuring 84 meters (275 feet, 7 inches) long. The design was previously known as the 29SS class, named after the 29th year of Emperor Akihito’s reign in Japan, which corresponds to the year 2017 in the Gregorian calendar.

Like the last two boats of the Soryu class, the Taigei will be equipped with lithium-ion batteries as a power source. For quiet operation, the Taigei will use an advanced lithium battery system, that will provide it with longer endurance. The batteries are recharged using diesel generators. Japan does not operate nuclear-propelled submarines. Japan is the only known country to have operational submarines using lithium-ion batteries.

The Taigei will now undergo fitting out and sea trials at the builder before it is commissioned into the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in 2022.

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