The Japanese underwater force has received renewed attention in light of growing tensions with China and their interest in the South China Sea. It therefore seems that the newer Soryu-class of diesel-electric attack submarines entered service with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the right time. Twelve boats of the class are planned with eight having been completed and three under construction (2016). The class succeeds the eleven-strong Oyashio-class in service, these commissioned in the latter part of the 1990s and onward.
The Soryu-class can be seen as an extension of the Oyashio-class with the primary exception being the X-shaped tail planes used on the Soryu boats. The newer boats also carry more modern features to impact their performance including endurance underwater.
JS Soryu is the lead ship of the Soryu-class and displaces at 2,900 tonnes surfaced and 4,200 tonnes submerged. She features a length of 275.6 feet, a beam of 29.9 feet and a draught of 27.10 feet. Installed power is 2 x Kawasaki 12V 25/25 SB-type diesel-electric engines with 4 x Kawasaki Heavy Industry (Kockums) V4-275R Stirling engines driving 3,900 horsepower (surfaced) and 8,000 horsepower (submerged) to a single shaft. Surfaced speeds reach 13 knots while submerged speeds maximize at 20 knots, range being out to 6,100 nautical miles when cruising at 6.5 knots.
Internally the vessel is crewed by 65 personnel (including nine officers). She carries the ZPS-6F surface / low-level air search radar suite, a Hughes/Oki ZQQ-7 sonar fit with a bow array, a towed array and 4 x LF flank arrays. The ZLR-3-6 makes up the Electronic Warfare fit along with 2 x 3" underwater countermeasures tubes. Armament is 6 x 21" (533mm) torpedo tubes with some 30 total reloads. The tubes can fire both Type 89 torpedoes and the Harpoon Anti-Ship Missile (ASM) series. The vessel is also designed to lay naval mines when needed.
JS Soryu operates under the namesake of "Blue Dragon" and carries the Pennant Number of SS-501. She was laid down on March 31st, 2005 (under the project number of "S131") and launched on December 5th, 2007. Her formal commissioning arrived on March 30th, 2009 and she homeports from Kure, Japan.
JS Soryu follows the original IJN Soryu into service for Japan. The original warship (an aircraft carrier) was a player in World War 2 (1939-1945) and met her fate at the hands of the Allies during the Battle of Midway (June 1942).
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