Quite surprisingly, it is a Japanese Oil Tanker. The big ships have no rigging the way the old sailing ships used to, and sailors don’t have to climb to the crow’s nest anymore to sight land, but they are sailing ships alright.
Or, at least, they are partly sailing ships. The name of one of them is Shin Aitoku Maru, and in addition to the normal diesel engines carried by a ship of her size, she carries two huge masts fitted with sails that look like pillow cases standing on end.
The sails are adjusted by a computer that figures out how to get the most wind power from them based on the direction of the wind and the sea currents. Sails are adjusted by turning, raising, or lowering the masts.
If the wind isn’t strong enough to move the ship along at twelve knots an hour, the engines supply the needed power. In its initial cruises, this ship with its mixture of new and old ways has been able to save 50 percent of the fuel it would normally use, very important for Japan which has no oil of its own.
Strangely, the main cargo of the Shin Aitoku Maru is the very oil that it is most anxious to save.