Japan’s first LNG-fueled ferry Sunflower Kurenai is already in operation

   January 17, 2023 ,   Cruise Industry

MOL-Mitsui OSK Lines' first dual-fuel ferry in Japan is already in operation.

It is Sunflower Kurenai, presented to the world at the beginning of 2022. That is when its naming ceremony took place, at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ plant (Yamaguchi Prefecture). The new cruiseferry was meant to replace the conventional ferries that were circulating on specific routes, at the time.

Sunflower Kurenai is deployed on the Osaka-Beppu route operated by MOL since 1997. This is a major route that connects the Sunflower Ferry Terminal (Osaka Prefecture) and the Beppu International Tourist Port (Oita Prefecture).

The new Sunflower ferry Kurenai replaced Sunflower Ivory (1997-built) on the Osaka-Beppu route. Kurenai is considerably larger (652 ft/199 m vs 502 ft/153 m). This enabled the addition of a Grand Bathroom with a double floor area, a larger number of seats in the restaurant, and a generous public area on board (including a new 3-deck Atrium).

Kurenai is more spacious, boasting a volume of 17300 GT-tons (vs Ivory's 9245 GT), which also translates to an increased cargo capacity. The ferry also provides increased room and comfort for truck drivers onboard.

What makes Kurenai a pioneer in its country is the use of LNG/liquefied natural gas. The ship was fitted with a dual-fuel engine that runs on both LNG and standard gasoil/marine diesel.

Although this does not make the ferry 100% green, it has a positive impact on emission reduction. According to the builder, it is expected to operate with 25% fewer CO2 emissions and eliminate sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions.

Kurenai's LNG fueling was also a first for Japan, because of the specific procedure.

The new LNG-powered ship is soon to be joined by sistership Sunflower Murasaki. Two more LNG-fueled vessels of the same design will also be constructed.

This way, MOL’s Ferry Sunflower is due to operate 4 eco-friendly cruiseferries running on LNG, by 2025.