Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2023

91 vessels, Lavender and Azalea, were both equipped with the Mitsubishi Air Lubrication System, which blows air bubbles from the bottom of the vessel’s hull to reduce friction and – Mitsubishi claims – increase energy efficiency by 10 per cent. However, SHK Line Group opted not to install the technology on Hankyu Ferry’s 2020-built Settsu and Yamato ferries, or Tokyo Kyushu Ferry’s 2021-built Hamayu and Soleil. “The system has proved to be ineffective on fast conventional ferries with a thin hull,” explains Iritani. “Hull optimisation is the name of the game. The naval architects who designed the 23.5-knot Settsu, managed to achieve a six per cent increase in energy efficiency compared to earlier vessels, whilst the vessel is equipped with two ultra-economical Wärtsilä 14V31 main engines.” SHK Line Group’s efforts to decrease environmental pollution extend beyond improving energy efficiency. The ferry conglomerate pioneered the use of exhaust gas cleaning systems (scrubbers) among Japanese ferry operators. Settsu was Japan’s first ro-pax newbuild to be delivered with a hybrid scrubber. Scrubbers have also been installed on subsequent newbuilds, while six existing ro-paxes have been retrofitted with openloop scrubbers. European – and particularly Norwegian – operators have shown the way forward when it comes to the hybridisation and electrification of ferries, as well as investments in shore power facilities on ships and in port. But what is the situation in Japan? “We are considering some form of hybridisation as our next generation of ferries may come with batteries,” says Iritani. “We have experience with shore ONE GROUP, FIVE DIFFERENT FERRY BRANDS SHK Line Group controls five different ferry brands: Hankyu Ferry, Kampu Ferry, Shin Nihonkai Ferry and its Tokyo Kyushu Ferry affiliate, and the freightonly operator Suzhou Shimonoseki Ferry (SSF). SHK Line Group was founded as Shimonoseki-based Kanko Kisen in 1948 by Toyokuni Iritani. In 1968, he pioneered a ‘Motorway of the Sea’ service between Kokura and Kobe under the Hankyu Ferry banner. Following the success of Hankyu Ferry, Iritani established Shin Nihonkai Ferry in 1969 and today, the brand has eight ro-pax ferries and is the backbone of SHK Line Group’s ferry operations. It also controls Tokyo Kyushu Ferry. Both Kampu Ferry and Suzhou Shimonoseki Ferry operate international ferry services, connecting Shimonoseki with Busan in South Korea and Taicang (Taiso) in China, respectively. SHK Line Group remains in the hands of the Iritani family with the descendants of Toyokuni Iritani standing at the helm of the respective subsidiaries which hold each other’s shares. “ The ultimate goal is to develop a fully autonomous Smart Coastal Ferry” Hamayu and sister ship Soleil were built for Tokyo Kyushu Ferry and serve the new 527-nautical-mile route between Yokosuka and Shinmoji during the summer season