Japan’s Mitsui OSK Lines has given an initial glimpse of its first wind-assisted bulk carrier newbuilding which is being developed under its Wind Challenger project.

The shipowner posted shots of the telescopic hard sail installed on its 100,000-dwt bulker which is being constructed at Oshima Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

The project now proceeds to the commissioning stage and the sea trial, MOL said.

The vessel, which is backed by a coal transport contract with Tohoku Electric Power, is due for delivery in October.

When fully assembled the single bow-mounted hard sail can be extended to a height of about 50 metres from the upper deck — which MOL has said is “almost the same height” as the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

The composite material sail can be retracted but will not sit flush to the deck.

MOL has said the installation of this pilot hard sail will reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by about 5% on the Japan-Australia route in comparison with a conventional vessel of the same class, or about 8% on the Japan-North America West Coast route.

But the company has been optimistic about achieving further improvements.

Company officials said the wing-shaped hard sail offers greater thrust and efficiency over a rotor alternative. Adjustment of its angle and height can also be fully automated.

MOL also has an ultramax bulk carrier on order that will be the first ship to feature two separate wind propulsion technologies — Anemoi Marine Technology’s Rotor Sails and MOL’s Wind Challenger hard sail.

The shipowner announced this month that it is teaming up with UK renewable energy group Drax to launch new bulkers fitted with hard sail technology.

MOL told TradeWinds in March 2021 that it was planning to extend its hard sail designs to VLCCs and LNG carriers which could be fitted with multiple sails.

The bulker is backed by a coal transport contract with Tohoku Electric Power. Photo: MOL