Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group unit Mitsubishi Shipbuilding has launched Ferry Fukuoka, the second of two large ferries that are being constructed for Japan Railway Construction, Transport And Technology Agency (JRTT) and Meimon Taiyo Ferry.

The ceremony was held at the Enoura Plant at MHI’s Shimonoseki Shipyard and Machinery Works in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan.

Operated by Meimon Taiyo Ferry, the vessel will be owned by Meimon Taiyo Ferry and JRTT.

After the completion of interior work and sea trials, the vessel is expected to be delivered in March 2022.

Ferry Fukuoka will serve the Osaka and Shinmoji route in Kitakyushu, replacing the Ferry Fukuoka II, which has been in operation since 2002.

With a gross tonnage of nearly 15,400t, the new ship is 195m long, 27.8m wide and 20.3m deep, making it the ‘largest ship ever’ to be operated by Meimon Taiyo Ferry.

Ferry Fukuoka has the capacity to accommodate 675 passengers, as well as vehicle capacity for approximately 162 12m trucks and 140 passenger cars.

It will feature broad public spaces, along with a spacious restaurant, bath and lounge.

The vessel has been equipped with a propulsion plant that uses a hybrid-type azimuth propulsion assist method, which, in combination with an air lubrication system, is expected to provide improved energy efficiency and ship steering capabilities.

According to Mitsubishi Shipbuilding, this combination can bring a reduction of around 35% in fuel consumption compared to existing ferries.

Furthermore, the vessel has an incorporated hybrid-type scrubber for cutting down atmospheric emissions of sulfur oxide (SOx).

In July, Mitsubishi Shipbuilding launched the first of two large multi-role response vessels that are being constructed for the Department of Transportation in the Republic of the Philippines.