Mitsubishi Shipbuilding has signed two contracts that will see it build Japan’s first methanol-powered roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) cargo ships for Toyofuji Shipping and Fukuju Shipping. 

The Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) subsidiary will build two 169.9m long ro-ro ships with a gross tonnage of 15,750 and a passenger car capacity of around 2,300 vehicles. 

Both ro-ro vessels will be built at the Enoura Plant of MHI’s Shimonoseki Shipyard and Machinery Works in Yamaguchi Prefecture with a scheduled completion at the end of the 2027 fiscal year. 

The ships will be fitted with a dual-fuel engine capable of using methanol and a heavy fuel oil, reducing carbon emissions by around 10% compared to similar vessels not enabled for methanol use. 

Mitsubishi said its participation in the construction of the Japan-first ro-ro vessels highlights its role providing more environmentally-friendly solutions and vessels that “contribute to stable navigation for customers.” 

The size of the vessels, bigger than similar ror-ros in Japan, will also allow for less frequent voyages, something the company says will contribute to a shift in working schedules for seafarers by allowing for increased holiday and rest time. 

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The contracts highlight the popularity of methanol as a more sustainable fuel in the maritime industry, following in the footsteps of vessels already on the ocean such as Maersk’s fleet of methanol-powered container ships.