Japan’s ClassNK has okayed the world’s first design for a tanker fuelled by liquid hydrogen.

The classification society has been working with Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding, Uyeno Transtech and Yanmar Power Technology on the revolutionary low-carbon prototype.

Approval in principle has been granted for a 5,000-dwt ship with an electric propulsion system.

“This is the world’s first AiP certification for the design of an oil tanker using liquefied hydrogen as a fuel,” ClassNK said.

The ship was developed under the Nippon Foundation’s scheme to demonstrate zero-emission ships.

ClassNK carried out a review based on its rules for using hydrogen and fuel cells on ships.

The company said it will “contribute to the further consideration of the project from the perspective of safety evaluation and will strive to support the decarbonisation of shipping”.

The class society released new guidance for vessels using alternative fuels in May.

This covered methanol, ethanol, LPG and ammonia, while adding hydrogen.

The guidelines stipulate the requirements for installation, controls and safety devices, aiming to minimise the risks to ships, seafarers and the environment.

They are based on deliberations at the International Maritime Organization subcommittee on the carriage of cargoes from 2023, as well as the knowledge gained from design reviews conducted by ClassNK.

Hydrogen rules cover the prevention of explosions due to its “ease of ignition”, as well as impacts on seafarers and the environment due to potential hydrogen fuel leakage, the company said.