MITSUI OSK Lines has announced the delivery of Shofu Maru, the world’s first cargo vessel equipped with a Wind Challenger hard sail.

The first of two ships to be fitted with the hard sail at this stage, the Japan-flagged bulk carrier entered operation on 7 October and is expected to transport coal from Australia, Indonesia and North America.

As of Monday 10 October, Shofu Maru is en route from Nagasaki, Japan to Port of Newcastle.

Development of the hard sail wind propulsion system was completed in February this year, designed to help merchant vessels harness wind as a propulsive force.

“The introduction of the Wind Challenger is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions [by] about 5% on a Japan-Australia voyage … compared to a conventional vessel of the same type,” MOL said in a statement.

The company expects the system to reduce GHG emissions by around 8% on a Japan-North America West Coast voyage and contribute to curbing emissions during fuel transportation.

Constructed by Japanese shipbuilder Oshima, Shofu Maru was officially named at a handover ceremony at the Oshima shipyard on Friday.

MOL said the dedicated vessel will serve Japanese electricity company Tohoku Electric Power. The two companies intend to work toward stable transportation of energy resources and the reduction of environmental impact.

And, in August this year, MOL announced its decision to construct a second bulk carrier fitted with the Wind Challenger system

The second vessel will also be built by Oshima and is scheduled for delivery in 2024.