MOL Group to build Japan’s first LNG-fuelled ferries

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 21 November 2019


Japanese ship operator Mitsui OSK Lines and its group company Ferry Sunflower have announced plans to construct the first two LNG-fuelled ferries in Japan. The ships have provisionally been named as the Sunflower Kurenai and the Sunflower Murasaki.

MOL plans to order the vessels from Mitsubishi Shipbuilding in December. Ferry Sunflower will charter the ferries after delivery and launch them on its Osaka-Beppu route from the end of 2022 through the first half of 2023, as replacements for vessels currently in service the 1997-built Sunflower Ivory and the 1998-built Sunflower Cobalt.

The ferries will be equipped with high-performance dual fuel engines and will provide passengers with comfortable accommodations and reliable schedules. They will be quieter than current vessels, ensuring smoother, more relaxing travel. The use of LNG fuel will achieve environmental performance, reducing CO2 emissions by 20% compared to current vessels, and virtually eliminating SOx emissions.

With a length of 199.9m compared to 153m and a gross tonnage of 17,300 compared to 9,245, the new ships will be larger than the two sisters they are replacing but their service speed will be almost identical at 22.5kt. The larger size allows a passenger capacity increase of 53 to 763 and truck numbers will rise from 92 to 136.

The new vessels' proposed names are derived from the Kurenai Maru and Murasaki Maru, which MOL's corporate forerunner Osaka Shosen Kaisha launched on the Osaka-Beppu route in the 1910s. These vessels, and others that carried the same names, were called "Queen of the Sea" and the "Queen of the Seto Inland Sea." The new ferries will feature with amenities worthy of the tradition they inherit on the Osaka-Beppu route, which has a proud history of more than 100 years, and further expand the "casual cruise concept".

The ferries also embody the environmental impact-reducing ferry (ISHIN-Ⅱ), which was planned as a part of the "ISHIN NEXT - MOL SMART SHIP PROJECT". MOL is developing the technology for LNG-fuelled vessels and establishing safe operation through development, construction, and operation these new ferries, and promoting the wider use of LNG fuel.

The project has been adopted for the FY2019 energy conservation rating system for coastal ships, a demonstration test program aimed at enhancing the operational efficiency of coastal ships backed by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

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