K Line

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K Line
Public KK
Traded asTYO: 9107
FoundersKojiro Matsukata
HeadquartersChiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan
SubsidiariesInternational Transportation Service
Stack of K Line vessel "Vincent Thomas Bridge"
K Line container on the road in Belgium

Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd. (川崎汽船株式会社, Kawasaki Kisen Kabushiki-gaisha), also referred to as "K" Line, is one of the largest Japanese transportation companies. It owns a fleet that includes dry cargo ships (bulk carriers), container ships, liquefied natural gas carriers, Ro-Ro ships, tankers and container terminals.

It is the fourteenth largest container transportation and shipping company in the world.



K-line container ship steaming into San Francisco Bay, June 2007

"K" Line (named after three K initials) was formed when Kojiro Matsukata placed Kawasaki Kisen, Kawasaki Zosen and Kokusai Kisen under joint management to build a stronger fleet of 40 to 50 ships serving the Atlantic, North and South America, Africa and the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas. According to Lloyds, the newly established "K" Line was ranked 13th in the world in 1926, behind NYK (9th) but ahead of O.S.K. (14th).

By the end of World War II, Kawasaki Kisen had lost 56 vessels; 12 survived.


During that vital recovery period, "K" Line steadily returned to the building and operation of ships, reestablished bases of operation around the world, increased earnings and took other steps to restore corporate strength and vibrancy.


After the merger with Iino Kisen, "K" Line was newly capitalized at ¥9 billion and controlled a fleet of 104 ships, 55 of which were also owned by "K" Line. The merger gave "K" Line a solid foundation to advance dynamically into the future both as one of the world's largest shipping lines in terms of fleet size and as a well-balanced, integrated organization.


K Line opens International Transportation Service, a container terminal company in the Port of Long Beach.


KL Saltfjord in Bergen harbour

K Line Offshore AS was founded in Arendal, Norway in October 2007 as a subsidiary of K Line to provide offshore support services to oil and gas fields. They have commissioned new ships suitable for oil and gas fields in ultra-deep water, harsh environments and/or remote areas. They operate the following ships:

  • KL Arendalfjord - Delivered 24 October 2008
  • KL Brevikfjord - Delivered 24 September 2010
  • KL Sandefjord - Delivered 7 January 2011
  • KL Brisfjord - Delivered 13 January 2011
  • KL Brofjord - Delivered 5 April 2011
  • KL Saltfjord - Delivered 14 April 2011
  • KL Barentsfjord - Delivered 28 June 2011


On Monday 31 October 2016, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha - K Line, Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) agreed to merge their container shipping business via establishing a completely new joint venture company. The integration included their overseas terminal activities. The new Company started trading from 1st April 2018.


The new joint venture company, operating under the name “Ocean Network Express”, has holding company office in Tokyo, global headquarter in Singapore and regional headquarters in United Kingdom (London), United States (Richmond, VA), Hong Kong, and Brazil (São Paulo).


On 23 July, K Line car carrier Makassar Highway[1] ran hard aground at full speed in the Tjust archipelago near Loftahammar, Sweden, causing an oil spill.[2][3] By his own account, the captain had ordered a course close to land, far from established shipping lanes, in order to gain mobile phone reception. The ship's satellite communication system and black box were inoperable when departing Cuxhaven for Södertälje, and alarm systems had been disabled.[4] The Swedish Coast Guard recovered approximately 7,000 liters of oil by 30 July,[5] but thousands of liters of oil nevertheless washed up on the coast.[6] An estimated 14,000 liters of oil were spilled.[3][7] The ship was towed to Oskarshamn, where its cargo of 1,325 vehicles were offloaded. The chief mate was taken into custody and accepted a fine for intoxication and recklessness in maritime traffic.[8][9] The oil spill is also being investigated as an environmental crime.[7]

10 Ships to be manned by Filipinos[edit]

K Line containers aboard a Chinese boat on the Yangtze in Wuhan

On September 30, 2007, Shuichiro Maeda, K-Line president, said the company will build 10 cargo ships to be manned by an all-Filipino officers and crew. The vessels are expected to be finished by 2010. It will employ 7,000 Filipinos in the next 4 years (3,330 officers and 3,600 ratings or crew). K-Line will build the K-Line Maritime Academy-Philippines operational in February 2008 and is intended to train at least 10,000 seafarers a year.[10]


  • "K" Line Air Service, Ltd. changed name into "K" Line Logistics, Ltd.
  • "K" Line Travel, Ltd.


  1. ^ "Vessel details for: MAKASSAR HIGHWAY (Vehicles Carrier)". MarineTraffic. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  2. ^ Chambers, Sam (24 July 2018). "K Line car carrier hard aground in southern Sweden". Splash 247. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Swedish coast guard works to clean up 14,000-litre oil spill". The Local. 30 July 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  4. ^ "Nya uppgifter: Fartyget hade trasigt kommunikationssystem" [New details: The ship's communication system was broken]. Swedish Television (in Swedish). 1 August 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  5. ^ Jiang, Jason (30 July 2018). "Oil spill detected as K Line car carrier refloats". Splash 247. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  6. ^ Jiang, Jason (1 August 2018). "Leaking K Line car carrier under tow". Splash 247. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  7. ^ a b ""En fullständigt vansinnig kurs"" ["A completely insane course"]. Barometern (in Swedish). 2 August 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Tidslinje för Operation Makassar Highway" [Timeline for Operation Makassar Highway]. Swedish Coast Guard (in Swedish). August 2, 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  9. ^ "Skandalen Makassar Highway – dag för dag" [The scandal of Makassar Highway – day by day]. Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). 2 August 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  10. ^ "Japan firm builds 10 ships to be manned by Filipinos". GMA News Online.

External links[edit]