Japan's Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) has unveiled a plan to build the country's first liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuelled tugboat. 

The tugboat will be built in accordance with the International Code of Safety for Ships Using Gases or Other Low-Flash Point Fuels (IGF) code and will be examined by Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism prior to deployment.

The vessel is set to be built at Kanagawa Dockyard in Japan, and will be owned by MOL upon completion.

Yanmar will provide LNG-fuelled engines for the tugboat, while Osaka Gas have been contracted to supply LNG fuel.

Nihon Tug-Boat will operate the tugboat, which is set for deployment in Osaka Bay, Japan by April 2019.

The vessel will feature high-performance dual fuel engines in order to facilitate high-speed operation and improved environmental performance.

"MOL has stated the tugboat project aims to promote the technological development of LNG-fuelled vessels and their safe use."

MOL has stated the tugboat project aims to promote the technological development of LNG-fuelled vessels and their safe use.

The company also noted that the proposed vessel will be built in support of its research and development (R&D) programme known as ‘Ishinnext – MOL smart ship project’.

The knowledge and expertise that is expected to be gained through the tugboat's development and operation will be passed on to various other LNG-fuelled ship projects, including MOL’s own ISHIN-II environment-friendly ferry concept.

The ISHIN-II vessel will be able to transport both cargo and passengers once fully realised.


Image: MOL's LNG-fuelled tugboat design concept. Photo: courtesy of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines.