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Meet the World's First Digital Smart Ship, the Japanese Built LNG-Fueled PCTC Sakura Leader

October 28, 2020

Photo: NYK

The run up to 2050 and dramatic reductions in emissions from ships will, by most expert’s thinking, be an evolution of small steps premised on melding new fuels and digitalization technologies.

The recent delivery of the LNG-fueled PCTC Sakura Leader to NYK can be considered a sizable leap in this regard, as the ship has been designated as the world’s first digital smart ship.

A Big Step Toward CO2 Reduction Targets

On October 28, NYK took delivery of Sakura Leader, a pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) capable of navigating oceans with only LNG as the ship’s main fuel. This ship’s delivery is seen by the company as a “remarkable step toward achieving NYK’s environment management target,” which is to reduce CO2 emissions per ton-kilometer of transport by 50% by 2050. The vessel was built at the Shin Kurushima Dockyard of Shin Kurushima Toyohashi Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.

The ship is the first large LNG-fueled PCTC to be built in Japan. Vessel modification and the switch to LNG will make the ship approximately 40% more energy efficient (by reducing CO2 emissions per unit of transport) compared to ships using conventional heavy oil fired engines. The vessel is also expected to reduce sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions by approximately 99% and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by approximately 86% compared to ships using conventional heavy oil-fired engines. The vessel will be contributing to clean marine transport by carrying vehicles produced by the Toyota Motor Corporation and other car manufacturers.

Sakura Leader was selected as a model project by Japan’s Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and will receive support from the ministries for technical verification of CO2 emission reductions during actual voyages.

NYK is positioning LNG fuel as one of the bridge-solutions until future zero-emission ships are realized. NYK plans to switch all its newly built PCTCs to LNG-fueled vessels about a decade in the future, and is aiming to further advance to zero-emission vessels utilizing low-emission

The World's First Digital Smart Ship

Sakura Leader was accredited by Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK) as the world's first Digital Smart Ship (DSS), a ship class notation confirming that the vessel is equipped with advanced digital technology. The achievement is in line with NYK’s medium-term management plan "Staying Ahead 2022 with Digitalization and Green," which encourages the development of ship operation data-related systems such as Ship Management Information System (SIMS) and LiVE for Shipmanager, an application that gathers various operation data collected by SIMS and enables shipowners and ship-management companies to use it for optimal operation and safe operation with low fuel consumption.

ClassNK’s DSS notation was developed with the aim of supporting environmental conservation, safety improvement, and sustainable development at sea by promoting the expansion and development of new technologies. This particular accreditation was for DSS (Energy Efficiency), which applies to the analysis of energy consumption efficiency; DSS (Machinery Monitoring), which applies to engine monitoring, data processing on board, and data transmission to land; and DSS (Connected Ship). The accreditation confirms that the vessel is making advanced efforts through the use of innovative technology.

Photo: NYK

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