A report on the shipbuilding of “SEA SPICA,” the high-speed sightseeing cruiser for island hopping in Setouchi Vol.1 by members of STU48 / West Japan Railway Company 【PR】

The high-speed sightseeing cruiser “SEA SPICA” will be born in summer of 2020!

The year 2020…, the Olympic and Paralympic year for Japan is coming around.

And in this memorable summer, the high-speed sightseeing cruiser “SEA SPICA” will be born.
This ship will be specialized for island hopping in Setouchi, and “West Japan Railway Group” and “Setonaikai Kisen Group” are developing and proceeding with the introduction together.

The official ambassador of the cruiser “SEA SPICA” is “STU48,” an idol group based in Setouchi area, “one sea and 7 prefectures.”
So, the members of STU48 who are playing an active part in Setouchi introduce the process of “SEA SPICA” being placed into service and running on the Seto Inland Sea.

“SEA SPICA,” a cruiser made entirely in Setouchi

The first report of this series is introduced by Akari Fukuda and Mai Nakamura from STU48.
We visited the shipbuilding company “Setouchi Craft Co., Ltd.” in Onomichi City, Hiroshima.
Actually, “SEA SPICA” is a high-speed sightseeing cruiser which is “made entirely in Setouchi.”
Inside of this building, “SEA SPICA” is now right in the midst of being built.
Now, let’s go inside of the factory!

Along with 2 members of STS48, we entered the factory wearing helmets.
We interviewed Mr. Shintaro Kawaguchi, who is the sales director of “Setouchi Craft Co., Ltd.”
This company has been building ships only made of aluminum alloy since 1967.
Its technique is highly regarded and it was awarded “Ship of the Year” in year of 2004.
Akari Fukuda’s hometown is in Kagawa Prefecture, and Mai Nakamura was born in Ehime Prefecture.
Both prefectures are also known as places for shipbuilding, so they are so interested in the SEA SPICA’s shipbuilding process.

“Please hold this metal plate,” Mr. Kawaguchi said, and handed a metal plate to us.
Nakamura and Fukuda held it and surprised “this is much lighter than we expected!”
“This is an aluminum plate. SEA SPICA is made of all aluminum, and that means it is a very light and strong ship,” he explained, “Aluminum makes the boat light and able to run fast, and also strong against corrosion. Moreover, it is a recyclable material therefore this ship is attracting the world’s attention.”
Nakamura and Fukuda are both amazed and admire the idea that “aluminum makes everything perfect!”

Meeting the “SEA SPICA,” made entirely of aluminum!

Finally, we could see the “SEA SPICA” in front of us!
The body is so shiny and bright!
The 2 members of STU48 couldn’t help saying “Wow!” before the big body of the ship.
Mr. Kawaguchi explained that the “SEA SPICA” is a catamaran, which has two parallel hulls joined together.
This structure, which has 2 hulls on both sides and not a hull in the center, makes the boat stable and allows a wider space for cabins.
That means the SEA SPICA is spacious but slim, and can run much faster.
Shipbuilding with aluminum alloy can have a lot of merits!

“We started building this ship in November 2019. The completion is scheduled for early summer this year,” said Mr. Kawaguchi.
“Really? This shipbuilding can be finished in only around 6 months…!?”
We all surprised by the schedule, and moreover, that this shipbuilding is done only by the hand labor of craftsmen!
Surprised again…!

By the way, the body of SEA SPICA will be painted with 3 colors – navy blue, white and gold.
“We can imagine that the color will look so cool on this ship, but we will miss this aluminum body made with the craftsmen’s techniques because it will be covered by the paint…,” Nakamura and Fukuda sighed.
So, Mai Nakamura was allowed a special chance to touch the body of the SEA SPICA.


All the staff working on the shipbuilding said, “we have to manage to make this ship look very attractive on the sea of Setouchi before its completion in early summer!”
What kind of ship will the “SEA SPICA” be?
“SEA SPICA is a high-speed sightseeing boat, so it will allow people to visit islands in Setouchi so speedily, mainly the islands in the area of Shimanami Kaido and Tobishima Kaido. The ship is full of ingenuity. For example, window-side seats will be tilted a little bit to the outside so that passengers can see the view from windows easily. There will be an outside-deck, and you can find unique sofas which are inspired by the islands in Setouchi.”
It sounds like a cruise in Setouchi will be a lot of fun!
We cannot wait for the completion of the SEA SPICA, can we?

“SEA SPICA” will start cruising on the Seto Inland Sea from the summer of 2020.
This more “open and smart” cruising in Setouchi will be implemented soon!

We will keep reporting on how the shipbuilding goes until its completion, along with the ambassadors of “SEA SPICA,” the members of STU48.
Look forward to vol.2 of our report!

Setouchi Finder Editorial Department

The name of the vessel : “SEA SPICA”

SPICA is the brightest star in the constellation Virgo.
This star shines blue at night in spring, and is one of the first-magnitude stars which forms the Spring Triangle.
It is called the “pearl star” in Japan.
The vessel brilliantly and beautifully shines, and invites people to have free and open travel on the blue sea in Setouchi – this is SEA SPICA, the Setouchi high-speed sightseeing cruiser.

Setouchi Palette Project

Name of the course|Setouchi Shimatabi Line
Operation area|Tobishima Kaido and Shimatabi Kaido area which connects Hiroshima Port (Ujina) and Mihara Port
Operated by|Setouchi Sea Line (a group of Setonaikaikisen)
Shipyard|Setouchi Craft Co., Ltd.

“SEA SPICA” contributes to “C to Sea Project” run by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and Maritime companies, which introduces people to the enjoyment of the sea, and vessels to liven up the sea.
Umikoko by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism

C to Sea Project in “Setouchi” carried by the Department of Transportation in the Chugoku area
Website of Department of Transportation in Chugoku (C to Sea Chugoku area)

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