Japanese shipping firm Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) has named its new liquefied natural gas (LNG) powered ferry, which was ordered from Mitsubishi Shipbuilding.

The company conducted the naming and launching ceremonies for the vessel, which is the second of Japan’s first two LNG-driven ferries, at the Enoura Plant of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Shimonoseki Shipyard & Machinery Works.

Named Sunflower Murasaki, the new vessel is anticipated to be delivered next March.

The new vessel is a sister ship to Sunflower Kurenai and will be used on the Osaka-Beppu route as an alternative to the vessel currently in service. It will be operated by Ferry Sunflower.

MOL stated that ‘the new ferry will offer greater transport capacity and convenience for both cargo and passenger transport compared to the vessels currently in service’.

The new ferry has interconnecting passenger rooms, which are claimed to be the first of their kind on a long-distance ferry.

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Furthermore, it features advanced technology and a modern design that are expected to further improve Sunflower Ferry’s ‘Casual Cruise Concept’.

MOL has placed an order for a total of four LNG-fuelled ferries. Two of these ferries will be constructed following the Sunflower Kurenai and Sunflower Murasaki.

Operated by MOL Ferry, the two new vessels will enter service on the Oarai-Tomakomai route as an alternative to the ferries presently in operation.

This month, MOL received approval in principle (AiP) from Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK) for a large-scale liquefied carbon dioxide (CO₂) carrier design.