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Japan’s First LNG-fueled PCTC Sakura Leader delivered and accredited as the World’s First Digital Smart Ship

– Remarkable Step Toward CO2 Reduction Target in 2050 –

n October 28, NYK took delivery of Sakura Leader, a pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) capable of navigating oceans with only LNG as the ship’s main fuel. This delivery marks a remarkable step toward achieving NYK’s environment management target, which is to reduce CO2 emissions per ton-kilometer of transport by 50% by 2050. The vessel was built at the Shin Kurushima Dockyard of Shin Kurushima Toyohashi Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.

The ship is the first large LNG-fueled PCTC to be built in Japan. Vessel modification and the switch to LNG will make the ship up to approximately 40% more energy efficient (by reducing CO2 emissions per unit of transport) compared to ships using conventional heavy oil fired engines. The vessel is also expected to reduce sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions by approximately 99% and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by approximately 86% compared to ships using conventional heavy oil fired engines. The vessel will be contributing to clean marine transport by carrying vehicles produced by the Toyota Motor Corporation and other car manufacturers.

Sakura Leader was selected as a model project by Japan’s Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and will receive support from the ministries for technical verification of CO2 emission reductions during actual voyages.

NYK is positioning LNG fuel as one of the bridge-solutions until future zero-emission ships are realized. NYK plans to switch all its newly built PCTCs to LNG-fueled vessels about a decade in the future, and is aiming to further advance to zero-emission vessels utilizing low-emission marine fuels such as hydrogen and ammonia from around the mid-2030s.

In accordance with its medium-term management plan “Staying Ahead 2022 with Digitalization and Green,” the NYK Group has incorporated environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria in the company’s business strategies, and seeks to enhance the company’s corporate value as well as contribute to the sustainable development of society through business activities. Promoting replacement to next-generation eco-friendly ships in the PCTC fleet is one of the group’s activities.

On October 28, NYK-operated Sakura Leader, Japan’s first LNG-fueled pure car and truck carrier (PCTC), was accredited by Nippon Kaiji Kyokai as the world’s first Digital Smart Ship (DSS), a ship class code (notation)* confirming that the vessel is equipped with advanced digital technology.


NYK’s medium-term management plan “Staying Ahead 2022 with Digitalization and Green,” encourages the development of ship operation data-related systems such as SIMS** and LiVE for Shipmanager,*** in addition to participation in the i-Shipping project**** and the assurance of optimal safe, economical operations. This DSS acquisition applies to the latter.

Acquisition of DSS Notation

Nippon Kaiji Kyokai’s DSS notation was developed with the aim of supporting environmental conservation, safety improvement, and sustainable development at sea by promoting the expansion and development of new technologies. This particular accreditation was for DSS (Energy Efficiency), which applies to the analysis of energy consumption efficiency; DSS (Machinery Monitoring), which applies to engine monitoring, data processing on board, and data transmission to land; and DSS (Connected Ship).

The accreditation confirms that the vessel is making advanced efforts through the use of innovative technology. The acquisition of these three notations is more than just a concept-design recognition; in fact, Sakura Leader is the world’s first accredited ship to engage in actual operations.

With the support of Japan’s Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism’s “Model Project for CO2 Emission Reduction Measures from Ships by Utilizing Alternative Fuels,” this vessel will make maximum use of LNG fuel and demonstrate carbon dioxide (CO2) emission reduction in actual operations. Functions related to this DSS notation will also be utilized in measurement of emission reduction.


The acquisition of this notation aims to further improve environmental protection and safety by making use of our technical know-how and utilizing it for future technological development. Through these efforts, we will strive to explore and create new needs for our customers.

Based on the business strategy formulated in NYK’s medium-term management plan, the Group will develop business for advanced safe operation through the digitization of ships, further improvement of efficiency, and reduction of environmental loads.

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