MOL LNG ferry

MOL secures LNG supply for two new LNG-fueled ferries

Japanese shipping major Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) has signed basic agreements with Japan Petroleum Exploration (JAPEX) and Hokkaido Gas for the supply of LNG fuel to two newbuilding LNG-fueled ferries.

Image credit MOL

The LNG will be supplied in each port on the Oarai-Tomakomai route operated by MOL Group company MOL Ferry, and the supply is scheduled to start in 2025 once the ferries enter service.

 The two LNG-fueled wind power-ready ferries were ordered back in February 2022 from Naikai Zosen Corporation. Once delivered, they will replace two vessels that MOL Ferry currently operates on the Oarai-Tomakomai route.

According to MOL, the use of LNG as fuel is expected to cut CO2 emissions by about 25% and sulfur oxide (SOx) by virtually 100%, when compared to conventional marine fuel oil.

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In line with the latest deal, JAPEX will supply LNG fuel to the ferries at the Port of Oarai in Ibaraki Prefecture, and Hokkaido Gas will supply it at the Port of Tomakomai in Hokkaido respectively through the Truck to Ship method. Namely, LNG is supplied to an LNG-fueled vessel at berth from tank trucks parked on the wharf.

The LNG supply system uses a skid that connects the vessel to four tanker trucks simultaneously. This speeds up the bunkering process, allowing the ferries to take on sufficient fuel even during their limited time in berth.

Illustration: The location of LNG tank, the shape of skid and others in this image are different from those of the 2 new LNG-fueled ferries; Image credit MOL

The 199.4-meter-long vessels will have a gross tonnage of about 15,600 tons, and each unit will be able to accommodate 157 passengers, 50 vehicles and 155 truck units.

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

The 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.

The energy-saving device called the Spray Tearing Plate (STEP) is a rectangular energy-saving device that suppresses resistance from waves and swells on the surface of the water. 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, MOL said.

Tests have shown that the fuel efficiency of the vessels equipped with STEP improved by about 2% under actual operating conditions.

The MOL Group is currently building Japan’s first two LNG-fueled ferries, Sunflower Kurenai and Sunflower Murasaki, entering service in 2023.

Sunflower Kurenai, Japan’s first LNG-fuelled ferry, was launched and named at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in March 2022. The vessel received its first LNG fuel supply last month.

The second vessel from the series was launched four months ago.

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