Japanese shipping conglomerate Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) has launched the Sunflower Kurenai, the first of two LNG-fuelled ferries in Japan.
The new ferry entered service in January and will operate on the Osaka-Beppu route between Sunflower Ferry Terminal in Osaka Prefecture and Beppu International Tourist Port in Oita Prefecture.
“It is Japan's first ferry to adopt the latest environmental-friendly specifications including a high-performance dual-fuel engine, which can run on both LNG and heavy fuel oil,” a spokesperson for MOL said.
The route is operated by Ferry Sunflower, a subsidiary of MOL, and is expected to reduce emissions of CO2 by about 25%, and sulphur oxide by virtually 100%.
“Compared to earlier ferries, the new ferry offers greater transport capacity and convenience for both cargo and passenger transport. In freight transportation, it has greater capacity to load trucks and provides a larger, more comfortable room for truck drivers,” MOL said in a statement.
The vessel incorporates several large open public areas onboard, including a three-layer atrium, designed to promote and enhance the company's ‘Casual Cruise Concept’.
The new vessel is one of four new LNG-fuelled ferries ordered by MOL and in the near term will be joined by sister vessel Sunflower Murasaki. Following this, two next generation LNG-fuelled ferries are planned to enter service in 2025, replacing vessels currently plying the Oarai-Tomakomai route operated by MOL Ferry.
“MOL will further expand the adoption of LNG-fuelled vessels, accelerate its efforts to reduce total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and contribute to the realization of a low-carbon, decarbonized society through the concerted efforts of the entire Group,” a spokesperson explained.
A subsidiary of Mitsui, one of Japan’s largest corporate groups, MOL has been a long-term supported of LNG as a transport fuel, operating multiple LNG-fuelled vessels across its merchant fleet. since 2017, MOL has operated a dedicated Bunker Business Office in order to accelerate LNG initiatives and solutions for refuelling vessel.