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April 13, 2024
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Partly wind-powered coal ship sails into Newcastle

On its maiden voyage from Japan to Newcastle, a coal ship employing a hard sail and some wind power arrived in port this morning.


  • A coal ship called the Shofu Maru uses wind power in part.
  • On the trip from Japan, a fibreglass sail on the bow cuts down on glasshouse gas emissions by 5%.
  • This morning, the ship landed in Newcastle’s Port, where 80,000 tonnes of coal would be loaded.

The Shofu Maru has a telescopic sail made of fibreglass that can stretch to a height of 55 metres and can transport 80,000 tonnes of coal.

Mitsui OSK Lines’ sail is a first for the shipping industry and will help cut down on glasshouse gas emissions.

According to preliminary tests, the business predicted it would consume 5% less fuel travelling between Australia and Japan.

The vessel typically uses 500,000L of fuel for a journey that length, therefore the reduction amounted to 25,000L of fuel.

Due to the sail and the greater winds in the northern hemisphere, an average flight between Japan and the United States is predicted to reduce emissions by 8%.

The Shofu Maru has an exceptional hard sail composed of fibreglass (ABC Newcastle: Blake Doyle)

This morning, a group that included representatives from the port administration and the Japanese consulate general in Australia met the bulk carrier.

Captain Vikas Bangia, the harbourmaster of Newcastle, led the vessel into the port.

I’m thrilled to host this yacht, which will be powered by wind, and to be a part of history, the man remarked.

The hard sail of the ship, according to Captain Bangia, is hydraulically operated.

It can be up to 55 metres long and presents a unique problem because of the high-wind area in the ship’s front section, he said.

Getting better through practise

Given the unusual ship’s restricted bow visibility and the wind’s influence, a lot of planning went into safely accepting it.

In order to prepare for arrival into Newcastle, the pilot team and I travelled to Japan, according to Captain Bangia.

Our team practised this in Japan last month, so we were eager to put it into action.

The ship must be loaded in 20 hours before it can leave Newcastle the next day.

It follows a weekend meeting in Perth between Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Both leaders endorsed 2050 net-zero ambitions and signed a bilateral security agreement between their two countries in order to foster greater collaboration.

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