Deck cranes as sails: MOL makes further wind investigations

Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) is looking at every line and curve of its ships to make energy savings wherever is possible, even down to the cargo handling cranes on deck.

Japan’s largest shipowner is teaming with compatriots Oshima Shipbuilding and Iknow Machinery to research and develop mounting sails on ships’ cargo handling cranes and similar equipment to boost propulsion force.

The joint R&D project aims at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from vessels while underway, by unfurling the sail placed on ship such as triangular parts of existing cargo handling cranes to use offshore winds to provide additional propulsion force.

If successful, the sail concept could be deployed on many of MOL’s bulkers, wood chip carriers, and multipurpose vessels.

MOL also worked with Oshima in developing its hard sail project. The first so-called Wind Challenger (pictured below) is scheduled to be released in 2022. The system converts wind energy to propulsive force with a telescopic hard sail.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Cranes & Sails, forces on the luffing boom bearing will be high therefore damage most likely.
    And the sails/material won’t last long in shipping enviroment.

  2. Delighted to read the article “deck cranes as sails…. … … …” The initiative taken by MOL along with OSHIMA to research and develop on hardsail project whereby the team has developed a system to convert wind energy to a propulsion force with telescopic hardsail is indeed amazing teechnology breakyhrough.

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