Ferry Sunflower will charter the two ferries, the Sunflower Kurenai and the Sunflower Murasaki, after delivery and launch them on its Osaka-Beppu route from the end of 2022 through the first half of 2023, as replacements for vessels currently in service.

The ferries will be equipped with dual fuel engines, to enable use of LNG as a fuel and reducing CO2 emissions by 20% while virtually eliminating sulfur oxides emissions compared to current vessels. They are also expected to be less noisy than current vessels, MOL said.

In addition, the ferries embody the environmental impact-reducing ferry (ISHIN-Ⅱ), which was planned as a part of the "ISHIN NEXT - MOL SMART SHIP PROJECT", aiming at safer vessel operation and reduced environmental impact.

MOL is developing the technology for LNG-fueled vessels as part of its plans to promote the wider use of LNG fuel.

The project has been adopted for the FY2019 energy conservation rating system for coastal ships, a demonstration test program aimed at enhancing the operational efficiency of coastal ships backed by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.