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NYK Orders Modification from LNG to First Ammonia-Fueled Tugboat

LNG fueled tug to be converted to ammonia
Sakigake, Japan's first LNG-fueled tug, is set to be converted into the first ammonia-fueled tug (NYK)

Published Aug 9, 2022 7:35 PM by The Maritime Executive

Just a month after winning design approval, NYK has entered into a contract with Keihin Dock Co. to modify a tugboat to ammonia-fuel specifications. The Sakigake, a tugboat currently fueled by LNG and operated in Tokyo Bay, will proceed with the conversion that could make it the first tug fueled by ammonia.

The 272-ton tug which was built in 2015 is Japan’s first LNG-fueled tug and was viewed as a proof of concept for alternative fuel operations in the class. At the time of her introduction, NYK highlighted that the small size of a tug and variations in LNG-fueled engines made the project especially challenging. The vessel measures just 122 feet in length but Keihin Dock was able to develop a design for the LNG system with a dual-fuel engine and LNG system.

ClassNK in July award an Approval in Principle to NYK and IHI Power Systems Co. for the design to convert the tug to ammonia-fueled systems. The tug is part of Japanese project for the development of vessels equipped with a domestically produced ammonia-fueled engine. The project began in October 2021 and is supported by the Green Innovation Fund Project of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

NYK and IPS are proceeding with the research and development aiming for early implementation. In the development process, there were various design challenges in using ammonia as fuel, but the two companies overcame these challenges without changing the size of the conventional tugboat. They highlighted challenges in achieving steady combustion of ammonia along with the need to control the noxious emissions and toxic nature of ammonia.

NYK will begin modification in 2023 with the aim of demonstrating the operations in the port of Yokohama in 2024.