Japan’s largest ferry and coastal RoRo vessel operator launched

Japanese shipping major Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) has revealed that its two wholly-owned ferry and coastal RoRo vessel operating companies, MOL Ferry Co. and Ferry Sunflower Limited, will operate under one company, MOL Sunflower.


The new company will carry on the “Sunflower” brand, and will start operations on 1 October. MOL Sunflower will serve on six regular routes and 15 vessels in service, making it Japan’s ‘largest and coastal RoRo vessel operator”.

In April 2023, MOL established the “Headquarters of Wellbeing & Lifestyle Business” as an organizational structure to support the expansion of its non-shipping businesses and enhance the ferry and coastal RoRo vessel business.

The first of Japan’s two LNG-fueled ferries, Sunflower Kurenai, owned by MOL and operated by its group company Ferry Sunflower Co., entered service in January this year. The ferry launched operation on January 13 between the Osaka-Beppu route, linking Sunflower Ferry Terminal, Osaka Prefecture, and Beppu International Tourist Port, Oita Prefecture. 

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According to MOL, the vessel adopts the latest environmental-friendly specifications including a high-performance dual-fuel engine, which can run on both LNG and heavy fuel oil. The use of LNG fuel is expected to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by about 25%, and sulfur oxide (SOx) by virtually 100%.

The second vessel, Sunflower Murasaki, was put into service in April this year.

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MOL intends to achieve further company growth by integrating and consolidating these two companies, which serve as the core of the MOL Group ferry business. The firm also plans to further strengthen its ties with local governments and communities in ferry departure and arrival areas, and contribute to regional revitalization and local economies.