K Line CEO: Installation of 1st Seawing completed

Japanese shipping company Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line) has completed the installation of the first Seawing, an automated kite system that harnesses wind power, on a Capesize bulk carrier at the end of 2022.

K Line CEO; Image by K Line

The installation was in line with the previously announced schedule, as K Line had been planning to carry out the installation in December 2022.

The second vessel to feature a Seawing will be a newbuild LNG-fuelled 210,000 dwt bulk carrier, which is currently being built at Nihon Shipyard. According to the Japanese shipowner, the installation will follow upon the vessel’s delivery, which is scheduled for 2024.

In July 2022, the company confirmed orders for three additional Seawing systems, bringing to a total of five the number of its vessels that will use Airseas’ wind propulsion technology to reduce their emissions.

Airseas has a 20-year agreement with K Line, with options for the Seawing to be installed on up to 50 of its vessels in total.

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The system was recently put through its paces during sea trials on the vessel Ville de Bordeaux, as it transported aircraft components between Europe and the United States.

The 154m ro-ro vessel is operated by Louis Dreyfus Armateurs (LDA) and chartered by Airbus, Airseas’ minority shareholder and launch customer. Airseas said that the first stages of the sea trials have validated key steps such as the folding and unfolding of the wing, take-off and landing, and flights in altitude. The next phase will test the Seawing in a broader range of weather conditions and fine-tune the automation system.

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Best ever results

K line expects best-ever financial results for the current fiscal year, reaping fruit from structural reforms made last year.

Delivering the New Year message, Yukikazu Myochin, President & CEO at K LINE, said that the dry bulk, energy resource transportation, and product logistics segment are improving profitability, thanks to fleet downsizing and the disposal of underperforming businesses, among other things.

“In the containership segment, where market conditions were particularly robust in the first half of the year, the best practices of the three companies became apparent and the effects of the integration were greatly demonstrated,” Myochin said.

Speaking on the company’s five-year Medium-term Management Plan, K Line plans to maintain investment discipline to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, adding that the focus of the company moving forward will remain the coal and iron ore carrier, car carrier, and LNG carrier businesses.

“Regarding the coal and iron ore carrier business, we signed a memorandum with Emirates Global Aluminium and JSW Steel for joint research and comprehensive discussions for carbon-free operation, and signed a long-term Consecutive Voyage Contracts for Indian coastal shipping with JSW Steel,” he added.

In light of the growing need for environmental responsiveness, K Line plans to conduct aggressive sales activities that leverage its transportation services in the growing Asian and Middle Eastern markets, in addition to the Japanese, Chinese, and Korean markets, in order to produce stable earnings by accumulating medium- to long-term contracts.

“In the LNG carrier business, we are steadily capturing demand in the expanding Asian market, having signed a long-term time charter contract and a shipbuilding contract for 12 LNG carriers for the state-owned QatarEnergy, and completed two LNG carriers for the Malaysian state-owned oil and gas company the Petronas Group,” Myochin said.

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“We will advance research and preparations for transportation demand resulting from new energy sources such as hydrogen and ammonia, as well as for the transportation of liquefied CO2, which have signed long time charter contract of two ships for Northern Lights, the world’s first full-scale CCS project announced at the end of last year and the like, a field in which the “K” LINE Group can make maximum use of its experience and knowledge,” he added.

The company further noted that its capital policy is to return 400 to 500 billion yen to shareholders over the five-year period.

“In addition to the dividend increase in fiscal 2022, we have announced and implemented a total of 100 billion yen in share repurchases as an additional measure to return profits to shareholders. Moving forward, we will continue to maintain an awareness of our optimal capital structure, ensure capital efficiency and financial soundness, make the investments necessary to increase corporate value based on cash flow, and actively pursue shareholder returns, including share repurchases,” Myochin concluded.