MOL orders two super eco ferries

Japanese shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) and its group company MOL Ferry have ordered two liquefied natural gas- (LNG) fueled wind power-ready ferries.

Photo: MOL

MOL signed a deal with compatriot shipbuilder Naikai Zosen Corporation for the construction of the ferry pair.

The 199.4-meter-long vessels are slated for delivery in 2025, and will replace two vessels that MOL Ferry currently operates on the Oarai-Tomakomai route.

With a gross tonnage of about 15,600 tons, each unit will be able to accommodate 157 passengers, 50 vehicles and 155 truck units.

The MOL Group is currently building Japan’s first two LNG-fueled ferries, Sunflower Kurenai and Sunflower Murasaki, entering service in 2023. With the addition of the two new vessels, the MOL Group aims to be among industry leaders in terms of environmental responsibility.

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The new ferries will reduce CO2 emissions by about 35% in comparison with ferries currently in service, by adopting the latest technologies. The MOL Group will reduce environmental impact by introducing the next-generation super eco ferries.

3 main characteristics

The newbuilds will feature three main characteristics that will make them truly environmentally friendly:

  • Use of LNG fuel

Compared to conventional marine fuel oil, LNG is expected to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by about 25%, sulfur oxide (SOx) by virtually 100%, and nitrogen oxide (NOx) by about 85%, allowing for a significant reduction of vessels’ environmental impact.

  • Adoption of the latest technologies

The new ferries adopt the “ISHIN” ship design which features a streamlined shape with an aerodynamically rounded the bow and can use diagonal headwinds to help propel the vessel.

These ferries will be also equipped with high-performance, high-efficiency engines. In addition, new technologies such as energy-saving device developed by Naikai Zosen have been incorporated to further reduce CO2 emissions.

  • Response to modal shift

As the number of trucks is expected to increase due to the acceleration of modal shift, all cabins will be private, offering additional comfort not only for passengers but also long-distance truck drivers. MOL group will contribute to reducing CO2 emissions by supporting modal shift.

The MOL Group set the target to achieve net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. It is promoting the wider adoption of LNG fuel through the development and advancement of an LNG fuel supply system in Japan and overseas.

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It also plans to launch about 90 LNG-fueled vessels by 2030 as an initiative to introduce clean alternative fuels. The group intends to develop technology for LNG-fueled vessels and safe operation through development, construction, and operation of the new ferries, and take an active stance in fostering the use of LNG fuel.

Spray Tearing Plate (STEP)

Naikai Zosen has been developing an energy-saving device called the Spray Tearing Plate which will be installed on the new ferries to further boost energy efficiency to improve energy-saving technology.

With this order for new LNG-fueled ferries, which are the first LNG-powered ferries for Naikai Zosen, the company aims to win additional orders for eco-friendly LNG-fueled coastal ferries and RoRo ships.

Specifically, STEP is a rectangular energy-saving device that suppresses resistance from waves and swells on the surface of the water.

Naikai Zosen and the National Institute of Maritime, National maritime Research Institute of Port and Aviation with Technology jointly acquired a patent for the STEP. The effects can be demonstrated by attaching a STEP on both the left and right sides of the upper part of the bow.

Normally, when a vessel is underway, waves facing the bow create resistance, reduce speed, and detract from fuel efficiency. But the installation of the STEP prevents this resistance by separating the waves on the bow from the hull, resulting in higher fuel efficiency.

Tests have shown that the fuel efficiency of the vessels equipped with STEP improved by about 2% under actual operating conditions. It has earned high evaluations from various perspectives, such as reducing vessel operating costs and reducing environmental impact.