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Milestone LNG-fuelled tug begins trials

Thu 31 Jan 2019 by Martyn Wingrove

Milestone LNG-fuelled tug begins trials
Tugboat Ishin receives its first LNG fuel in Sakai Senboku Port, Japan

A major shipping group has commenced operations with the first LNG-fuelled tug in Japan to reduce emissions in a key port.

Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) received tugboat Ishin earlier this month and it bunkered its first LNG fuel from a lorry in Sakai Senboku Port.

This 43.6-m tugboat was built by Kanagawa Dockyard Co in Kobe, Japan for MOL. It was filled with LNG, supplied by Osaka Gas Co, in preparation for its sea trials.

Ishin is scheduled to conduct test sailings with LNG fuel and to be delivered to MOL before the end of February. It is due to start operations in April as the first LNG-fuelled tugboat serving Osaka Bay.

Ishin will be operated by Nihon Tug-Boat Co and will regularly refuel at a specialised facility in Sakai Senboku Port.

MOL worked with Osaka Prefecture Port and Harbour Bureau and Osaka Gas on implementing this facility.

MOL established a bunker business division in 2017 to accelerate its initiatives on LNG and other alternative vessel fuels. It intends to widen the use of LNG fuel for ships and workboats to reduce their environmental impact.

The shipping group expects Ishin to emit 25% less CO2 in comparison to tugs that run on marine diesel and produce lower SOx and NOx emissions. This is the first bunkering of LNG onto a vessel at any port in the Kansai region. 

More LNG-fuelled tugs have come into service or are on order in east Asia and southeast Asia. Two dual-fuel tugs began operations in Singapore in 2018  Maju Loyalty and KST Liberty and at least two more are under construction. There is also a drive in China to build dual-fuel tugs with one under construction at Jiangsu Zhenjiang Shipyard.


Challenges of LNG bunkering will be discussed in depth at Riviera Marirtime Media's LNG Ship/Shore Interface Conference Asia in June in Singapore.

Strategies for minimising SOx emissions will be discussed at Riviera Marirtime Media's Sulphur Cap 2020 Conference, Awards and Exhibition in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in May.

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