Carrier MOL Pushes Forward with Japan’s First LNG Tug


Japanese carrier Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), the ninth largest container shipping company in the world, has signed a deal for the construction of what will be Japan’s first certified LNG-fueled tugboat.

The vessel (pictured above) is Japan's first LNG-fueled tugboat with the LNG fuel tank mounted on the exposed deck at the stern of the ship and conforming to the IGF code, which regulates safety requirements for vessels that run on gas and low-flashpoint fuels.

This enhances convenience in bunkering, maintenance, and inspection.

The construction, carried out by with Kanagawa Dockyard Co, is slated to start in February 2018 and complete in February 2019, with its launch scheduled for April.

This marks MOL's first ownership of a tugboat powered by LNG-fueled engines that can run on both heavy oil and LNG, produced by Yanmar Co.

MOL will also be moving ahead with research on practical use of an LNG fuel supply system with a detachable, portable LNG fuel tank, by adapting this design to the tugboat.

Read a technical paper by Simon Bennett, Director of Policy & External Relations, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), on the game-changing impact of the new IMO sulphur rules


MOL at the signing ceremony. First from right: MOL Managing Executive Officer Yoshikazu Kawagoe. Second from right: MOL Managing Executive Officer Koichi Yashima


The vessel will be operated by Nihon Tug-Boat Co., and it will be deployed in Japan's Osaka Bay in April 2019.

LNG fuel will be supplied by Osaka Gas Co., using a truck-to-ship system.

Osaka Gas and MOL will establish an LNG fuel supply system for vessels, which will be the first in Osaka Bay and cooperate in the measures of LNG fuel supply development project conducted by Port and Harbor Bureau of Osaka Prefectural Government at the Sakai-senboku Port.

MOL has conducted various researches related to LNG fuel, such as a joint study of an LNG-fueled Capesize bulker, an Approval In Principle (AIP) for the future design of a series of LNG-powered 20,000 TEU-class containerships, and an AIP for the design of an LNG-powered coal carrier.

The carrier will also leverage those achievements, including the newest effort of an LNG-fueled tugboat, in the development and operation of various types of LNG-fueled ships as a way to reduce the environmental impact of vessel operations.

MOL's merging partners, Japanese carriers Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line), Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK Line), along with Toyota Tsusho Corporation and Chubu Electric Power Co. are also pushing forward LNG development in the country by developing a new bunkering business.

Read more: The CEO of MOL and the President of K Line have released positive statements about what the future will hold for the two Japanese carrier lines in 2018 as they prepare to merge with NYK Line

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