Hydrogen-powered vessels | CMB X Tsuneishi Group

Hydro Bingo boat


CMB (Compagnie Maritime Belge), a Belgian shipping and logistics company, has been working with Japanese shipping and shipbuilder Tsuneishi group since 2019. Together, they develop hydrogen-powered vessels for the Japanese market. Following their first realization, a 80-passenger hydrogen ferry, they announced in 2021 the establishment of a joint venture to accompany further projects.

The partners

CMB, a worldwide shipping group

freight boats

Based in Antwerp, CMB is a diversified shipping and logistics group from Belgium, with offices located worldwide including one in Japan where the company has been working for 40 years. Major player in the maritime industry and shipping, CMB is under the spotlight for affirming its international role in the hydrogen transition of ships. Since 2017, it has developed various dual fuel and monofuel hydrogen engines and applications on its own or with its partners.

CMB.TECH, CMB’s cleantech division, launched the Hydroville in 2017, the world’s first hydrogen-powered passenger ship. In 2021 they opened the world’s first multimodal hydrogen refuelling station. Later this year they will launch the Hydrocat, a hydrogen powered crew transfer vessel first used in Dutch offshore windmill farms. CMB.TECH is currently developing Hydrotug, a tug boat powered by a hydrogen-diesel dual system.

Tsuneishi, a diversified shipping and shipbuilding group

Dating back to 1903, the origins of the Tsuneishi Group are in shipping and shipbuilding. The group expanded to other businesses such as energy, environment, and life & resorts. Two companies of the Tsuneishi Group are involved in the partnership with CMB.

Based in Onomichi-city (Hiroshima prefecture), Tsuneishi Facilities and Craft is part of the shipbuilding segment of Tsuneishi Group. The company builds and repairs aluminum alloy vessels, and does general construction, lifeboat maintenance and inspection of ships. Tsuneishi Facilities and Craft has gained experience through time in building more environmentally-friendly ships, using technologies such as electric propulsion. Hydrogen fuel is considered as a high contender in the company’s aim to build a zero-emission ship.

Kambara Kisen is known as the mother company of the Tsuneishi Group and is now part of its shipping business segment. It has operated container liner routes between Japan and China since 1903, and transport equipment and vessel living quarters for the Group’s shipbuilding businesses in the Philippines and China today.


The partnership : JPNH2YDRO

The “Green Growth Strategy for Carbon Neutrality in 2050 announced at the end of 2020 by the Japanese government confirmed the already envisaged key role of hydrogen to both decarbonize Japan and contribute to its economic growth. This, combined with the know-how of Japanese shipbuilders to develop fuel-efficient ships, offers a promising ground for building and operating hydrogen-fueled ships in Japan.

In this context, CMB and Tsuneishi Group initiated discussions towards a partnership in 2018. The year after, the two companies started to develop HydroBingo, Japan’s first passenger ferry using hydrogen as a fuel for propulsion. The ferry, with a capacity of 80 passengers, is operational since mid-July 2021.


In April 2021, the European and the Japanese companies decided to strengthen their partnership and announced the project of a new joint venture, JPNH2YDRO, that will focus on the import, marketing and engineering of CMB’s hydrogen internal combustion engine technology (H2ICE) for the Japanese industrial and marine market.

To support H2ICE development in Japan, the joint venture plans to establish a local application center. It will work on verification and improvement of environmental performances of hydrogen propulsion engines, design of applicable ships and equipment, and solutions to adapt the technology to land-based and larger vessels. It will work on the development of Asia’s first hydrogen-powered tugboat, HydroPhoenix. It will also consider working on support ships for offshore wind farms.

As these numerous projects suggest, CMB and the Tsuneishi Group are tightening their relations in light of the trend towards decarbonization in Europe and Japan. According to CMB, “sharing a vision and respecting each other is most important” while “tolerance to cultural differences makes the partnership even better”.

For the European company, the introduction of H2ICE technology in Japan will face the challenges of cost and availability of hydrogen, as production will need to be scaled-up and refuelling infrastructure to be developed. To tackle this issue, CMB established in February 2021 another partnership with Japanese companies - Itochu Corporation and Nippon Coke Engineering - this time to work on establishing a hydrogen supply chain based on the local production for local consumption.

More information

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