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Shofu Maru offers Newcastle early risers a ‘Back to the Future’ moment


Early risers were treated to a “Back to the Future” moment when the Shofu Maru sailed into Newcastle Harbour on Monday morning.

The first-of-its-kind Japanese bulk carrier, equipped with Wind Challenger (a hard sail wind power propulsion system), was greeted by eager locals along Macquarie Pier and other vantage points.

Port Authority of NSW CEO Captain Philip Holliday said residents witnessed a slice of history.

“It’s part of a new generation of green shipping around the globe,” he explained.

“We’re delighted to welcome this beautiful and innovative vessel to our shores, along with a delegation from the Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL) Group.

“The Shofu Maru is the world’s first craft equipped with Wind Challenger and will transport coal mainly from Australia, Indonesia and North America as a dedicated vessel for Tohoku Electric Power Co., Inc.

“With its futuristic-looking sail, it converts wind energy directly to a propulsion force, using the wind as clean and unlimited source of energy.”

The introduction of the Wind Challenger is expected to reduce the amount of fuel used for operation and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by about 5% on a Japan-Australia voyage and about 8% on a Japan-North America West Coast voyage, compared to a conventional vessel of the same type.

“In response our Harbour Master Captain Vikas Bangia along with two Newcastle marine pilots travelled to Japan to oversee first-hand preparations for the local team and undertake simulation piloting trials at the MOL Group facility in Tokyo,” Captain Holliday said.

“Managing port operations to the high standard of efficiency and precision that our roles at the Port Authority require, also involves looking to the future at emerging trends, methods and technologies to ensure our ports, logistics, systems and people are prepared for industry changes.

“As most working industries around the world are transitioning to greener practices, the same can be said for maritime.”

Port of Newcastle CEO Craig Carmody congratulated Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL) Group for its role in diversifying the shipping industry.

“Their dedication to reducing fuel emissions through innovation should be applauded and encouraged,” he said.

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