Vibe Inc. to co-develop electric-propulsion ship for use in Ishigaki Island

Vibe Inc. to co-develop electric-propulsion ship for use in Ishigaki Island

Concept drawing of the electric-propulsion ship (photograph provided by Vibe Inc.)

February 23, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

On February 14, Vibe Inc., an affiliate company of Bandai Namco Holdings, announced that it will co-develop an electric-propulsion ship with Kuniken Ltd., and the Shin-Itoman Ship Yard Co. The companies plan to complete building the ship this October. They aim to use it as a marine leisure ship in the waters around Ishigaki Island from next spring. According to Vibe Inc., this is the first time that an electric-propulsion ocean-going vessel will be developed in Japan.

The ship will use a lithium-ion battery. The companies plan to build a photovoltaic power supply system on land and use the ship out of the Ishigaki Port Terminal. The system can temporarily provide electrical power to the ship when disaster strikes. The ship’s speed will be eight knots, the same as a diving support vessel.

The ship navigates for two to three hours on one charge. The companies will use it in the sea between Ishigaki Island and Taketomi Island and in the Okinawa Sekisei Lagoon. The 19.5-meter-long ship will weigh 19 tons. It is a catamaran made of aluminum alloy. Part of the ship’s bottom is armored glass, which enables people to see coral from inside the ship.

The companies invested about 60 million yen to develop the ship. They used subsidies for promoting energy base technologies in subtropical islands. The committee, on which Ishigaki City is represented, plans to select the companies to manage the project. Yoshihiko Yamada, a professor at Tokai University, who is an adviser for the project, said, “It is important to use an electric-propulsion ship that is a clean energy vehicle, in the area that will be designated as a World Heritage Site. We would like the ship to be a symbol of Ishigaki.”

(English translation by T&CT)

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