March 9, 2016

Inside the Soryu Submarine: Rare Diagram, Photos, Video and Translations.

Life beneath the waves in the Soryu submarine.

Diagram of a Soryu Command Center (or Control Room) from Ships of the World Vol. 713, page 96 (Courtesy

A friend has kindly provided an English translation of the subtitles in the above Youtube.

The Soryu submarine, where most of the action takes place, is Zuiryu “Auspicious Dragon”. It is the fifth Soryu built, hence designated SS-505. It has lead-acid batteries and Stirling engine AIP. It was laid down March 2009, launched October 2011 at MHI and commissioned into the Japanese Navy (JMSDF) in March 6, 2013 see “Soryu Table”. It is homeported at the Japanese Navy's main base at Yokosuka.

The only non-Soryu action is a 60th Anniversary of JMSDF Submarine Fleet ceremony, held at Yokosuka Naval Base, with submarine naval officers attending. Vice Admiral Doman Seiichi, Commander Submarine Force, gives a speech.

Scene - In the tight confines of a submarine dwell 65 souls (9 officers, 56 men). They take a female reporter out for the day. Note - Japanese submarines are usually an all male preserve.


Youtube Time

Speaker and What he/she/they Said

Reporter: Ah!

Reporter: Thank you. Oh Great. Now, we are offshore. Numbers of ships are becoming less.

Captain Ryu Moriyasu: Yes.

Narrator: A jet back mass with a cloud of white smoke sails the sea. This is the latest class of submarine, a [Soryu specifically the] Zuiryu. Its maximum width is 9.1, and length is 84m. Building cost is more than 50 billion yen [A$600 million]. Zuiryu commissioned three years ago. Zuiryu rarely conducts activities such as disaster relief or life-saving. It is a weapon just for attack.

Narrator: Submarine conducts secretly mission in the deep sea. We are allowed to accompany with training of submarine. This is the first TV filming of Soryu-class submarine training.

Narrator: First, we went section called “Control Room”. We can see a row of instruments and monitors, filming of them is rarely permitted.

Captain: To the mast. Dive!

Crew: Dive. Dive.

Narration: Suddenly, something happens in the ship.

Reporter: Ship is inclined. It is quite inclined to the front.

Captain: It is going more inclined.

Reporter: My body is nearly moving. I feel to be powerfully pushed to the front.

Narrator: Because the submarine starts deep diving for training.

Narrator: This is footage from camera set out side of the submarine under the special permission.

Narrator: The submarine has no windows. After submerging, they hear sound and detect abnormality.

Reporter: We already submerged deep. In this submerged situation, training is going to be carried out.

Narrator: Under the red light, combat training is carried out. One word perfectly changed tense and quite atmosphere.

Soryu's Command Center area, drive/sonars/combat system etc. Darkened for security. Note chairs on rails.


Sonar man: Detected sound. Hundred twenty degree.

Narrator: Sonar man checking sound in the sea detected the warship. They say, if it is enemy, they will conduct preemptive attack before being detected. Immediately, Captain starts action.

Crew: We get in the position.
Captain: Roger. Get in the position. Prepare training torpedo warfare

Crew: Get in the position. Prepare training torpedo warfare.

Crew: Prepared the position related to launch control.

Narrator: The they identify (the warship) whether it is all or enemy by such as huge date accumulated in the latest computer

Reporter: Captain check and confirm the monitors, and gives direction. He does not look actually nor use periscope.

Crew: Yosoro (=go forward as-is). Yosoro. Yosoro. Captain: (unclear)180 degree stop.

Narrator: If submerged deeply, the periscope cannot be used. Is target ally or enemy?

Crew: Currently detected the ship in 120 degree direction.

Captain: We will conduct torpedo attack against this target.

Narrator: Captain assumed this target as enemy and ordered torpedo attack.

Crew: Prepared No.3 and N.4 torpedo tube for firing.

Captain: Roger.

Crew: We will fire No.3 torpedo, fire prepared.
Crew: Fire

Crew: Ute (fire).

Narrator: Emergency situation is assumed for most of trainings. In the deep sea, such a secret training was conducted. In submerging, generally, they do not communicate outside. Decision whether attack or not is depends of only Captains judgement.

Narrator: Next we went here

Captain: Curtains are set. There are [Japanese built Type 89] torpedoes opposite side of the curtains. [No picture of Type 89, even on Wikipedia!]

Reporter: I understand. Can’t we film these, we can?

Captain: No.

Reporter: Wow. Torpedoes! Exactly.

Periscope area in Command Center

Narrator: This is a section for torpedo firing.

Reporter: Have you ever fired torpedo?

Captain: Yes. But, we have not fired live ammunition against the target.

Reporter: Actually, you will fire such a huge torpedo against something. In this meaning, do you feel scar on firing?

Captain: Rather scary, we must avoid to fire (torpedo) against wrong target. So we are very careful in this point.

Narrator: Attack secretly enemy. To improve this ability, in the latest submarine, there are many equipment different from those of existing submarine

Caption: Equipment of latest submarine

Reporter: This is cockpit. In the cockpit of Oyashio-class which I boarded before, back and forth operation of handlebars was conducted. In this submarine, they adopted sticks operated by right and left hands.

Narrator: By these control sticks, they move X-shaped rudders in the stern.

In the existing submarine, they decided the upper-lower and left- right directions by cross-shaped rudders. Contrary, in the new submarine, X-shaped rudders move independently and provide sharper maneuverability.

Narrator: There are another modifications. We went to AIP section. Actually, new engines called AIP were equipped inside of the boxes. We cannot film AIP, because it is defense secret.

Reporter: I can see thick tube in the back and arrays of small valves. Bub, it does not look like engine at first glance.

Narrator: This is what is the maximum features of the latest submarine.

Narrator: The existing submarine, there is need to take in air to charge the batteries. But, surfacing has a risk to be detected. The new engine need not taking in air and provides significantly longer submerged period.

Captain: Surfacing provides risk of detection by radar, but now we can avoid such risk.

Stirling AIP section

Narrator: On the other hand, there is price to pay.

Caption Unknown life in submarine.

Reporter: Same as always, steep and narrow stairs. (she used to visit Oyashio-class).

Reporter: Look at this. I am surprised. Beds are set just next corridor. One, two, three, it is three-stage bed. This is extremely narrow corridor. Thus tee beds are placed along parallel to corridor.

Narrator: Shower and WS are set in the back of 3 tier bunks. Private space of crew is limited to the bunkbed.

Reporter: It looks extremely cramped, doesn’t it?

Crew: Yes

Reporter: Wow

Crew: It has become smaller.

Reporter: As expected, smaller than in the preceding Oyashio class submarines?

Crew: Yes

Reporter: Where are your personal belongings?

Crew: Belongings compartment is under the bed.

Reporter: Are your belongings in this compartment?

Crew: Yes. Because only this can be locked space.

Reporter: My legs become high.

Narrator: Actually. Equipment of the new engine AIP makes living space small.

Reporter: OMG. It is terrible feeling of pressure.

Reporter: Why do they lengthen submarine?

Captain: If the size (of submarine) become bigger, it become more likely to be detected by the enemy and become more expensive, and so on. So they make submarine compact.

Narrator: It is not only tightness that submariners who engage in long submerged mission must acclimatize. You can use shower only once in every three days. Because, in addition to saving water and not making a sound as much as possible. Crews are obliged to wear headphones for watching for TV or DVD, because leaking sound provides a risk to be detected.

Reporter: Now, one after another, crews walk down the stairs and enter this room. I will follow them.

Reporter: A good smell.

Narrator: Drinking and smoking are prohibited inside of submarine. Only pleasure is a meal.

Reporter: Hmmmm. It is yummy.

Narrator: A crew member cannot give details of his mission to his family. How do they think their mission?

Reporter: Don’t you feel scaring in sailing?

Crew: We convince the scarring mission, rather, my parents or wife worry about mission, because it is very unclear.

Crew: We cannot tell returning date, so, we can only tell “not worry, and wait”, though I do not have a girlfriend.

Reporter and other crews---laughter

Reporter: How can you speak like that?

Crew: If I have a girlfriend, I would say like that.

Crew: We work for 6 hours and then take for 12 hours.

Narrator: Then crews start to confess their feeling.

Crew: I think smaller number of our sailing means more peaceful Japan.

Reporter: As expect, does the number increase?

Crew: Mmmmm.

Crew: I just feel increase in number of training.

Reporter: What happens? I cannot perceive it at all.

Caption - The 60th Anniversary of JMSDF Submarine Fleet Founding at Yakosuka base 

Narrator: Japan started operation of submarine 100 years ago. Tension of situation of East Asia is increasing.

Commander of submarine fleet of JMSDF, Vice-admiral Doman Seiichi. As military environment surround our county is increasingly severe, further improvement in deterrence is required under the new security legislation guide line. 

Narrator: Currently, 16 submarines engage in defense of Japan. Government aims to proceed with building of latest submarines, and finally to increase to 22 submarines.


Just for interest here is an Australian Youtube mainly featuring Rear Admiral (retd) Rowan Moffitt (former Head, Future Submarines Program, RAN and other RAN commands).



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

7:00-7:25 We can film AIP, -- > We cannot film AIP,


Peter Coates said...

Thanks Anonymous.

I've altered the text accordingly.



Wispywood2344 said...

Hi pete.

I've got a schematic diagram of Soryus' control room, and added some annotations in it.

Just for your information.


Ztev Konrad said...

Interesting comment at the end in the Australian section - which confusingly jumps from inside a Collins during refit
to the shipyard welding for an AAW destroyer- that none of the Collins problems resulted from Australian workmanship. Which is true in the sense the original combat system software, written by Australians, is no longer used, and was recognized as unusable.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Ztev

Yes they should have had the Admiral presenting all the way through, without the jumps to Ludlam.



Peter Coates said...

Hi Wispywood2344 [at 10/3/16 12:19AM]

Thanks for

I'll use that in the Sub Matters article.



Ztev Konrad said...

Just another comment about RADM Moffit, according to his his naval bio, hes a destroyer guy and isnt really a submarine expert at all.
He seems to have had an outstanding naval career and retired from active service as Deputy chief of navy.

I would think his particular expertise for the Sub program was in management rather that submarine operations.
The US and British navy had no shortage of submariners reaching the very top ( eg current US CNO is a sub expert) but has the RAN had the same career path for its sub officers. Or is that another one of the side effects of the Collins 'fragility', very capable men stay well clear .
Ive just looked at the current leadership group who are RADM or higher, and engineering, mine clearance, aviation as well as surface ships are all represented. No submariners ? Looking back to the period of the Oberons were in service, none have made Chief of navy even though subs have been a large part of the fleet.
the CWO of the navy started as a submariner.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Ztev

It is unclear but this may be Australia's de facto leadership regarding the Future Submarine . The Americans have much more experience running successful submarine programs (Virginias, Los Angeles, Ohios also Seawolfs (though the Soviet collapse curtailed the Seawolf Program)) than us Aussies or Brits.

Greg Sammut is a former submarine commander and may be Australia's senior submariner. He is also involved with the future sub.



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

The noise of AIP is louder than I expected, and it may become finger print. Because of its low power, noise and complex maneuver, abolishment of AIP is right decision. Combination of quicker charging by new snorkel generation system and higher energy density of LIBs provides better submerging performance such as longer silent running period and higher submerging speed. JMSDF should have abolished AIP and adopted LIBs few years ago.


MHalblaub said...

Dear S,
There are other AIPs that have nearly no moving parts and therefore are not noisy at all. A fuel cell just needs small fuel pumps. A sterling engine just like the MESMA concept is as loud as a normal engine with equivalent power.


MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,

I noticed some small things.

At 6:29 about the rudder controls. The helmsman is always at the control stick. On a German video about the Type 212 the helmsman's answer was about how the submarine is steered: "The computer does it. I set the bearing and the computer does the rest. The stick is in case the computer does not work."

Most interesting part is the answer by the captain at 9:41.

Here is a noise comparison between an running diesel on a Type 212A and the fuel cell AIP starting at 2:30. (The movie is in English but bad quality)


P.S. Maybe I'll find some interesting video about Type 212 in German worthwhile to translate a bit.

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub [at 11/3/16 5:45 AM]

Yes very recent Youtubes of 212s, Dolphins or the latest 209s (where there is no English commentary or English subtitles) may be worthwhile translating. is very good though. It shows what the latest AIP - the German fuel cell - can do.

To meet the increased needs for Australian submarine discretion having LIBs and also the latest AIP may be vital. As you say Stirling and MESMA AIP may be too noisy and may suffer the maintenance risks inherent in having moving parts.

Australian subs on LIBs (maybe only capable of 2 weeks submerged) might be sunk if they need to snort in the South China Sea (SCS), This is because China is building up fixed and mobile ASW sensors in that Sea.

Snorting in the SCS may be increasingly risky for Australia's extra-ordinarily large Collins and future submarines.

What about:

- 12 x 210s (with lower torpedo armament to pack in more intelligence gathering capability) and

- 12 large UUVs (launched/shipped/air-dropped/or 210 towed) from norther Australia?



Peter Coates said...

P.S. Hi MHalblaub

Here's one of my large UUVs

"The 51-foot Echo Voyager requires no on-board crew, and can operate autonomously for months at a time, thanks to a hybrid rechargeable power system. Photo courtesy Boeing"


Just imagine how advanced and more operationally capable UUVs will be in 10 years time for the critical and probably much more frequent intelligence gathering function. Submarine crews lives will be saved - as they won't be risked travelling too close to advanced military powers.



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete, MHalblaub and other people

I am awfully sorry. I found official evidence [1] that floating deck was adopted for AIP section of Soryu. So I correct comment (10/3/16 10:03 PM) as follows.

Before correction.
The noise of AIP is louder than I expected, and it may become finger print. Because of its low power, noise and complex maneuver, abolishment of AIP is right decision. Combination of quicker charging by new snorkel generation system and higher energy density of LIBs provides better submerging performance such as longer silent running period and higher submerging speed. JMSDF should have abolished AIP and adopted LIBs few years ago.

After correction
The noise of AIP is lower than talking, but is louder than I expected. The floating deck is adopted for the AIP sections in Soryu, and isolates effectively vibration of AIP from hull. Because of its low power and complex maneuver, abolishment of AIP is right decision. The new snorkel generation system is expected to have improved performance such as quicker charging and lower noise/vibration. Combination of the improved performance of the new snorkel generation system and higher energy density of LIBs provides better submerging performance such as longer silent running period and higher submerging speed. JMSDF should have abolished AIP and adopted LIBs few years ago.

Again sorry

[1] “The history of our submarine-stronger, longer time, more quiet-” by JMSDF


Peter Coates said...

Hi S and Wispywood2344

I remember the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and Tsunami which killed more than 18,000 Japanese people - just over five years ago.

A terrible thing to happen.


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete
Thank you for your consideration

Anonymous said...

Our friend from Germany claims that the Sterling engine is as loud as a diesel engine. I don't know where he got that idea from.
The reason you want to avoid to snorkelling isn't just because you will be close to the surface but mainly you would have to use the very loud diesel engines. Running around in the depths with loud AIP engines would be totally useless.

You can check the noise level for example in this documentary (4 parts in Youtube) about Swedish subs from the late 80s/early 90s. Even though the video it self has problems with the sound level, you can check for example around 5:40, from a test rig at Kockums.

Another, newer example, you can find in the end of the video in this article.


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Just few hours ago, REUTERS JPN (14/Mar/2016) reported that France sent the biggest delegation of companies to Canberra in twenty year. The delegation will reach the Capital tomorrow. According to REUTERS JPN, it had reported Germany losing support in this January, because of high risk by growth in size.

I appreciate German submarine, and I do not think it is bad. Perhaps, the CEP experts have different idea or secret information which we do not perceive. And REUTERS does not always provide right information.

I do not think US well come French submarine. Anyway CEP will show the conclusion in this year.


Anonymous said...

I do not think US well come French submarine--- > I do not think US welcome French submarine

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Four years ago, MOD introduced history of Japanese submarine after the world war II in its annual symposium [1]. MOD showed that Japanese submarines had been experienced continuous improvement for three directions, i.e., “Stronger”, “Longer”, “More Silent”. The designing considerations for Soryu were listed as follows:

Power & propulsion: second battery, AIP, generator
Environment: air cleaning, living accommodation

“More silent”
Stealth: reduction of underwater radiation noise, acoustic stealth, radar stealth, magnetic stealth
Configuration & equipment: noise reduction, vibration control supporting, propeller

Systemization: weapon control, submarine control
Underwater weapon: sonar, torpedo tube, periscope
Navigation communication: navigation device, communication device, information communication.
Motion performance: rudder, various tanks, propeller

[1] (Japanese) “History of submarine in our country –stronger, longer, more silent-“ Defense Technology Symposium 2012 by MOD. This short pater is interesting, but, we can find only figures and picture in web.


Peter Coates said...

Hi S

Thanks for . I used a free online PDF to HTML converter. Then right click mouse "Translate to English". Still a mixture of pictures and Japanese langauge but more English than before.

Actually there is a similar (but fully English) graph at the beginning of with date, name and tonnage of all post WW2 Japanese submarines. Then much more data and photos further down in that multi-page length Submarine Matters article.



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

I will introduce the said paper as follows.
History of submarine in our country - stronger, longer, more silent -

Toru Sato (Department of Naval Systems Development, Technical Research and Development Institute, of Ministry of Defense:

The history of submarine built after WWII in our country will be reviewed from a technical standpoint.

JMSDF has built about 50 submarines from the first Oyashio-class which was first domestic submarine to latest Soryu-class.
In even just hull form, from 1956 to1966, the first Oyasho-, Hayashio- and Ohshio-class, which were underwater cruising-oriented submarines based on the pre WWII hull form, were built. From 1967, Uzushio-, Yushio-and Harushio-class with tear drop shaped hull, which were underwater speed-oriented, were continuously built. From 1993 to present (2012), cigar shaped hull with partial single hull structure was adopted.

All that time, various technical evolutions have been experienced, i.e., increase in submerged depth by improvement of steel, welding technology and others; improvement of battery performance; extension of submerged period by equipment of AIP and others; equipment of TASS and flank array sonar; improvement of sonar search and detection attack abilities by increase in processing speed; reduction of underwater radiation noise by reduction of equipments and adoption of damping alloy and material.

Our submarines have continuously evolved depending on the operation aspects, considering request of operators and taking in latest technology. If we express the directions of the evolution, they will be “stronger”, “longer” and “more silent”.

On that day, from a technical standpoint, all submarines of JMSDF will be visually introduced.

Many people think short commission period of Japanese submarine is due to its short life time caused by degradation, fatigue, corrosion, and so on. But they are perfectly wrong, the short commission period results from require for continuous evolution. From standpoint of material science and design, designing and building of the weak structure which regularly degrades within defined period are much more difficult than those of the strong structure. In the former structure, perfect control and insight of key elements including prediction of future warfare, which are extremely difficult, is needed. As Japan unfortunately has not such high technology and insight, it can only build the strong structure.


Peter Coates said...

Hi S [at 15/3/16 9:27 PM]

Thanks for Toru Sato's article.

I will base an article on it tommorow (Wednesday)



Supernova said...

Hi Pete,

Very rare and interesting video of the Soryu indeed, and good work on the translation! The featured sub SS-505 Zuiryu 瑞竜 is the "Auspicious Dragon". The " Sword Dragon " is the preceeding boat SS-504 Kenryu 剣竜.


Supernova / Full Frame

Peter Coates said...

Thanks Supernova (from Full Frame)

I've changed the text and hereby made Zuiryu Dragon "Auspicious"