Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), along with its group firm MOL Ferry, has secured orders from Naikai Zosen Corporation to build two liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered ferries.

With delivery due in 2025, these ships will replace two vessels that are presently operated by MOL Ferry on the Oarai-Tomakomai route, which connects Japan and Hokkaido.

The new vessels will use modern technologies to lower carbon emissions by about 35% compared with the ferries currently in service.

The vessels will share the three main characteristics of LNG usage, adoption of the latest technologies and response to modal shift.

The use of LNG will allow the ships to cut down emissions of carbon by nearly 25%, sulphur oxide by virtually 100% and nitrogen oxide by about 85%.

The ‘ISHIN’ ship design provides a streamlined shape with an aerodynamically rounded bow, which allows the use of diagonal headwinds to assist in propelling the ship.

Along with high-efficiency engines, the ships will be installed with Spray Tearing Plates, a Naikai Zosen-developed energy-saving device that will help enhance energy efficiency.

In a statement, MOL said: “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.”

At present, MOL is constructing Japan’s first two LNG-driven ferries.

Named Sunflower Kurenai and Sunflower Murasaki, these vessels are scheduled to commence services next year.

Last week, MOL and Petroliam Nasional Berhad teamed up to explore liquefied CO₂ transportation for the carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) value chain.