Japanese hard sail gets AiP from ClassNK

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 04 October 2019


Japan-based classification Society ClassNK has granted an Approval in Principle based on its “Guidelines for Wind-Assisted Propulsion Systems for Ships” and related regulations for the basic design of a hard sail system, which converts wind energy to propulsive force with a telescopic hard sail, and is a fundamental technology of the Wind Challenger Project that Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, (MOL) and Oshima Shipbuilding are spearheading.

Along with other participating organisations, MOL and Oshima Shipbuilding have played a central role in research and development on the Wind Challenger Project, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using wind energy.

Wind challenger

The Wind Challenger Project started in 2009 with the "Wind Challenger Plan," an industry-academia joint research project led by The University of Tokyo, and in 2013, the team was chosen to receive a "Subsidy for Next-generation marine environment-related technology research" by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. In January 2018, MOL and Oshima Shipbuilding took charge of the plan and now play a central role in this project.

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ClassNK released its Guidelines for Wind-Assisted Propulsion Systems for Ships in September 2019 in order to contribute to the safe integrity and design of this technology and the ships that are installed with it.

Upon receiving the application from MOL and Oshima Shipbuilding, ClassNK has reviewed the basic design of the hard sail system in line with relevant international conventions, ClassNK rules, and the new guidelines. Following its successful completion, ClassNK granted an AiP for the basic design of the hard sail system, which marks the world's first AiP based on the guidelines.

MOL and Oshima Shipbuilding will continue to move toward a detailed design and implementation for the Wind Challenger Project, with the aim to launch of a newbuilding vessel equipped with a hard sail. That would reduce the vessel’s GHG emissions by about 5% on a Japan-Australia voyage, and about 8% on Japan-North America West Coast voyage. The long-term goal is to develop a widely accepted solution to achieve the IMOCO2 reduction target in combination with other measures to reduce GHGs by equipping vessels with multiple sails.

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