World’s first liquefied hydrogen carrier launched

Kawasaki Heavy Industries’s Kobe dockyard launched today the world’s first liquefied hydrogen carrier, opening up a new chapter in maritime energy transportation.

This vessel was developed to provide a means of transporting liquefied hydrogen at 1/800 of its original gas-state volume, cooled to –253°C.

Kawasaki Heavy plans to install a 1,250 cu m vacuum-insulated, double-shell-structure liquefied hydrogen storage tank on the ship and complete the vessel’s construction by late 2020. Once complete, the Suiso Frontier will be used for testing next year aimed at the establishment of an international hydrogen energy supply chain in which liquefied hydrogen produced in Australia will be shipped to Japan.

“With the goal of making hydrogen just as common a fuel source as petroleum and natural gas, Kawasaki joined together in 2016 with Iwatani Corporation, Shell Japan, and Electric Power Development (J-POWER) to form the CO2-free Hydrogen Energy Supply-chain Technology Research Association (HySTRA),” Kawasaki Heavy stated in a release today.

Kawasaki officials admit that this first prototype will need to be scaled up in size if the trade is to take off. At 116 m in length, the Suiso Frontier will be able to transport only 1,250 cu m of liquefied hydrogen in a single tank once complete. The largest LNG carriers, by comparison, can carry 200 times as much cargo.

A liquefied hydrogen unloading terminal is being built in Kobe, and a brown coal gasification facility is being constructed in Australia. In addition, a consortium comprising Kawasaki, Iwatani and J-POWER along with Marubeni Corporation and AGL Loy Yang, was formed in 2018 and has received financial support from the Australian and Victorian governments to build a gas refining facility, and a hydrogen liquefaction and loading terminal.

“In 1981, Kawasaki became the first Asian company to manufacture a liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier, and now as the world’s first company to complete a liquefied hydrogen carrier it will further its efforts toward achieving a Hydrogen Society,” the shipbuilder stated today.


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. This reminds me about the ~ $100-million-dollar H2 passenger bus debacle perpetrated a decade or so ago, here in Beautiful British Columbia CANADA … by our then-premier Gordon Campbell and the then-California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger speaking boldly of massive pollution cuts, escalating carbon taxes, and a “hydrogen highway” that would run from San Diego to Whistler. At that time, the numbers simply did not add up … and with this current story … same same …

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