Chikyu, the largest research vessel in the world, belongs to the Japan Agency for Marine–Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC). It is 210 metres long with 120 metres high freeboard, displacing 57,087 tonnes, housing a crew of 100 and a team of 50 scientists.
Its mission is to analysis the mechanisms which lead to earthquakes and tsunamis by drilling in the seabed.
As a high-tech laboratory, it could not risk getting lightning strikes, since its very structure increased the risk of attracting them.
Electromagnetic effects resulting from a lightning strike could cause damage to navigation systems or very expensive and sometimes irreversible losses of communication.
Everything is electronic now, unlike in the Franklin's day.
In 2011, it was decided to install —instead of a conventional passive sensor system that would enhance the attraction of lightning, with the resulting inevitable damage— the revolutionary new DEVICE FOR BALANCING VARIABLE ELECTRIC FIELDS which PREVENTS LIGHTNING FROM STRIKING