Mitsubishi Shipbuilding, a part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group based in Yokohama, held a christening and launch ceremony last week for the second of two large ferries being built for Japan Railway Construction, Transport and Technology Agency (JRTT) and Meimon Taiyo Ferry.
The ceremony took place at the Enoura Plant at MHI’s Shimonoseki Shipyard & Machinery. The handover is scheduled for March 2022 following completion of interior work and sea trials. The new vessel will replace the FERRY FUKUOKA II, in operation since 2002, and enter service from March 2022 on a regular route between Osaka and Shinmoji in Kitakyushu.
The new vessel is jointly owned by Meimon Taiyo Ferry and JRTT, an Incorporated Administrative Agency to support the provision and maintenance of transport facilities and other infrastructure based on Japan’s transport policy. Named FERRY FUKUOKA, the new ship is 195m long, 27.8m wide, and 20.3m deep, with gross tonnage of approximately 15,400. The largest ship ever operated by Meimon Taiyo Ferry, the vessel has passenger capacity for 675 persons, and vehicle capacity for approximately 162 12-meter trucks and 140 passenger cars.
The interior design concept is “sparkle of a bayside city,” evoking a modern waterfront. The broad public space taking advantage of the vessel’s large size, along with a spacious restaurant, bath, and lounge with sweeping views, allow for cruising in comfort. The space can also be efficiency utilized to provide improved service, such as converting vehicle storage space into a passenger deck and eliminating Japanese style passenger cabins to create cabins with beds.
The propulsion plant utilises a hybrid-type azimuth propulsion assist method, which combined with an air lubrication system achieves considerable energy efficiency (approximately 35% reduction in fuel consumption for carrying a large truck compared to existing vessels), and improved ship steering capabilities. In addition, along with lower CO2 emissions realized from energy efficiency, the adoption of a hybrid-type scrubber curbs atmospheric emissions of SOx, providing for environment-friendly operation.
Currently, shipping in Japan is undergoing a modal shift to marine transport from the standpoint of reducing CO2 emissions in land transport, a shortage of long-haul drivers, and working style reforms. Accordingly, demand is rising for ferries and RORO ships and larger vessels.