Japan Launches Methanol-Fueled Tanker Also Employing AI and IoT Tech

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Japan launched its first methanol-fueled tanker, a vessel that is due to enter service around the start of 2025 in the coastal trade. Developed by a consortium of Japanese companies including Muti O.S.K. Lines, the project is the first of its kind in Japan and is designed to demonstrate the potential for methanol-fueled shipping.

Named Daiichi Meta Maru, the vessel which is approximately 560 gross tons was sent down the ways in a traditional launch ceremony with great fanfare on July 3. The vessel is (65.5 meters) long and designed to transport methanol for Mitsubishi Corporation as well as fueled with methanol. The engine was developed by Hanshin Diesel Works. They designed the vessel to operate at speeds of 11 knots or greater.

The consortium consists of MOL along with MOL Coastal Shipping, Tabuchi Kaiun Co., and Niihama Kaiun Kabushiki Kaisha. The vessel is being built at the Kanasashi Heavy Industries facility of Murakami Hide Shipbuilding Group. Once delivered in December 2024, the vessel will be operating under charter to MOL Coastal Shipping.



In addition to the Japanese-built methanol-fueled engine, the vessel has other advanced designs. According to the companies, it will be equipped with “the most advanced energy-saving devices and operational support and automated cargo handling systems.”

The order for the project was placed in December 2022. The project was supported both by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). The goal was to support methanol development as well as supporting the use of AI and the Internet of Things to develop more efficient vessels.

Japan is at the forefront of methanol adoption. MOL in 2021 acquired a minority stake in Methanex Corporation’s Waterfront Shipping subsidiary to gain experience and participate in the methanol market. Several of the shipping companies have also placed orders for methanol dual-fuel ships, including a domestic Japanese car carrier ordered in June 2024 which will be the first methanol vessel built by Mitsubishi Shipbuilding.

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