New ammonia-fueled ship greenlit for 2026

Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd, (K Line), together with Itochu Corp, Nihon Shipyard Co Ltd, Mitsui E&S Machinery Co Ltd, and NS United Kaiun Kaisha Ltd, recently announced that it has obtained approval in principle (AiP) from classification society Nippon Kaiji Kyokai for the design of an ammonia-fueled ship (200,000 deadweight ton-class bulk carrier).

Nihon Shipyard developed the vessel as part of the Integrated Project for the Development and Social Implementation of Ammonia Fueled Ships. It was jointly adopted in October 2021 by the “Green Innovation Fund Project/Development for Next-Generation Ships/Development of Ammonia Fueled Ships” of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

According to K Line, there are currently no international guidelines for using ammonia as a marine fuel, so the shipping company and its partners aim to obtain an alternative design approval (ADA) for building the vessel. ADA would certify that an ammonia-powered ship would be safe to build, following existing international regulations.

Ships designed under Class NK guidelines may use ammonia as fuel, provided these are approved by authorities under the Solas Convention (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea) and are built according to an approved alternative design.

Ammonia-fueled ship safety

Moreover, a risk assessment (hazard identification study, or Hazid) was recently conducted on the use of ammonia as marine fuel, and the basic design of the vessel was evaluated as “capable of ensuring the same level of safety as ships operating with existing fuel.” For K Line, the acquisition of the AiP is an essential milestone for the implementation of ammonia-fueled ships, a new challenge for the maritime industry, and a necessary step toward the further promotion of the integrated project facilitated by Itochu. 

K Line and its partners will develop the vessel based on the basic design for which the AiP has been obtained, and aims to take delivery of the ship and begin operations in 2026. Furthermore, the company has revised its long-term environmental guideline K Line Environmental Vision 2050 in November 2021 with a new goal of achieving net zero GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions.

As a comprehensive logistics group based in the shipping industry, the K Line Group will continue to work to reduce its environmental impact to realize a sustainable society and increase its value based on its corporate philosophy of “contributing to the enrichment of people’s lives.

Accelerating zero GHG emissions

K Line believes that strengthening global climate change countermeasures has become urgent. The movement to achieve virtually zero GHG emissions in 2050 is accelerating in various countries and industries worldwide. Under such circumstances, K Line Group has revised its environmental target for 2050 in its long-term environmental guideline “K Line Environmental Vision 2050—Blue Seas for the Future.” To strengthen initiatives toward global climate change countermeasures, the group takes on the challenge of the higher goal of “2050 GHG emission net zero”.

One of the critical actions has been the establishment of an environmental management system (EMS). The shipping company established its EMS based on ISO 14001, and improves it consistently by identifying and minimizing ecological impacts.

Requirements for the EMS are stipulated in ISO 14001, which is set by the International Organization for Standardization. In February 2002, the company obtained EMS certification from a third-party organization. Since then, the company has enhanced its environmental activities through annual reviews.

K Line also practices the Drive Green Network (DGN) initiative to centrally control its environmental management initiatives through internal audits. (Story and photos courtesy of K Line)