A prototype of a hovercraft-model superfast freighter capable of carrying 1,000 kilograms of cargo at a speed of more than 90 kilometers an hour (about 56 mph) will begin its first long-distance test voyage on Aug. 20, shipbuilding sources said Tuesday.
The 430-ton freighter was developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Co.The Techno Super Liner, named "Hisho" (Flight), will begin the 1,000- plus-kilometer (625-mile) journey from a Nagasaki shipyard to a port in Chiba Prefecture, company officials said.
The 70-meter-long, 18-meter-wide hovercraft has proved its speed during a test run off the Goto Islands, west of Nagasaki, they said.
The freighter is expected to begin full business operations in the latter half of the 1990s.
The freighter will stop at seven ports in seven prefectures: Oita, Miyazaki, Kagoshima, Kochi, Tokushima, Wakayama and Shizuoka, they said.
The municipal governments at each port city have applied to become regular ports of call for the ultraspeed ship, and city officials will visit the craft during its experimental voyage, they said.
The TSL, dubbed the marine version of the Shinkansen bullet trains of the Japanese Railways companies, has support from the shipping industry and Transport Ministry.