Tentative names for the two vessels are Sunflower Kurenai and Sunflower Murasaki. The company plans to order the vessels from Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. in December.
Ferry Sunflower, a company of the MOL Group, will charter the ferries after delivery and launch them on its Osaka-Beppu route from the end of 2022 through the first half of 2023, as replacements for vessels currently in service (Sunflower Ivory and Sunflower Cobalt).
The ferries will be equipped with high-performance dual fuel engines and are promised to be quieter than current vessels, ensuring smoother, more relaxing travel. The use of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as fuel will contribute to achieving environmental goals, reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 20% compared to current vessels, and virtually eliminating sulfur oxides emissions.
The new vessels' names are derived from the Kurenai Maru and Murasaki Maru, which MOL's corporate forerunner Osaka Shosen Kaisha launched on the Osaka-Beppu route in the 1910s. These vessels, and others that carried the same names, were called "Queen of the Sea" and the "Queen of the Seto Inland Sea."