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Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) has revealed its plans to enhance fire detection capabilities in its newbuild LNG-fueled car carriers by installing cameras and an advanced AI system.
The AI system, developed by Israel-based Captain’s Eye, will provide early detection of fires onboard the vessels.
The systems will be installed on 10 car carriers on order and scheduled for delivery in 2024 and onwards. MOL says it is also considering retrofitting its existing in-service vessels with the system.
Captain’s Eye AI works by analyzing images captured by the cameras and sending alerts to crew members onboard the vessel as well as the onshore ship manager when it detects abnormalities associated with potential fires.
While all MOL car carriers are already equipped with fire detection systems, the AI-based system will enable faster detection and allows for real-time monitoring of cargo hold images from both the vessel and on land, enhancing response times.
The installation comes after several recent high-profile fires involving car carriers, which have raised concerns about safety in the roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) sector. The Felicity Ace, operated by MOL, caught fire in February 2022 while carrying some 4,000 vehicles including electric and luxury brands. All 22 crew members were safely evacuated, but the ship sank after burning for two weeks.
MOL also operated the Sincerity Ace, which caught fire on New Year’s Eve in 2018 in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Tragically, five crew members lost their lives in the incident. The ship was declared a total loss and eventually towed back to Japan.
MOL says Captain’s Eye AI systems have been widely deployed on merchant ships and other vessels worldwide to detect abnormalities in the engine room and on deck. MOL has successfully tested the AI system’s smoke detection capabilities in the cargo holds of the car carrier Onyx Ace. The system has been improved to detect even small amounts of smoke, leading to the decision to install the Captain’s Eye system on MOL’s car carriers.
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