Thursday, October 3, 2013

Japanese Container Line Extends LNG Carrier Shipping Fleet

Meanwhile Safety Campaign Continues
Shipping News Feature

JAPAN – Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) is normally thought of as a just a container line but with the announcement this week that the company has signed the deal with Kansai Electric Power, for joint ownership of two new build liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers that will sail under long-term charter contracts signed in June last year. At that time two Japanese companies, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, were contracted to construct the vessels which will be owned by a Bahamas-based MOL subsidiary, in which Kansai will hold a 70% share.

The two Moss type vessels, although both 48.9 metres across the beam are of different design, the first vessel is 293 metres overall, and with a 164,700m3 cargo tank capacity is based on a new design from Kawasaki Heavy Industries. It will be the largest ship in its class that can pass through the expanded Panama Canal which is scheduled for completion in 2014, while maintaining a hull size allowing it to call at major LNG terminals around the world.

The second 288 metre vessel has a 155,300m3 - class cargo tank capacity, and is one of the Sayaendo series carriers developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, featuring a continuous cover over its four Moss-type spherical tanks. The peapod-shaped continuous cover is integrated with the ship's hull, achieving weight reduction while maintaining overall hull rigidity and will contribute to fuel efficiency.

Both vessels adopt a new steam turbine engine that reuses steam for heating. This will also reduce fuel consumption. They also feature an advanced heat insulation system that offers the lowest LNG vaporization rate - 0.08% - of any LNG carrier in the world. Its environment-friendly, economically-advanced design also effectively controls surplus boil-off gas. The ships are slated for delivery in 2016 and 2017 and will bring the total of ships jointly owned by the two companies to three, following the delivery of the LNG Ebisu five years ago.

MOL meanwhile started yet another phase of their twice yearly safety campaign this week. The scheme targets all MOL operated vessels with the hands on approach the company has used previously. Company President Koichi Muto together with various executives and other personnel will concentrate their visits on vessels to meet on-board employees and exchange information and opinions about ways to prevent incidents based on a prescribed campaign outline.

The MOL fleet extends to just about every type of vessel these days and every type of tanker, containership, car carrier, ferry and cruise ship will receive attention during the course of the ongoing programme and is intended to create both company unity and a safer working environment.

Photo: The LNG Ebisu under way.