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Five Methanol-Fueled Containerships with Wingsails Ordered in Korea

wind powered containership
Zéphyr & Borée developed the design for a containership to use sails and to be methanol-fueled (Zéphyr & Borée)

Published May 24, 2023 6:27 PM by The Maritime Executive

French startup Zéphyr & Borée is widely believed to be behind an order placed at South Korea’s Hyundai Mipo Shipyard which calls for the construction of five innovative containerships. While the company has not officially confirmed the order, it is believed that they are proceeding with an initial class of five feeder ships that will deploy the wingsail design as well as methanol-fueled engines to achieve one of the first zero-emission containerships.

The shipyard in a stock exchange filing on May 22 reported an order for five containerships valued at a total of $311 million to an unnamed shipping company in Europe. The price per ship is reported at $62.2 million, nearly double the standard pricing for feeder ships. Alphaliner is speculating that a select group of shippers is willing to pay a premium to be among the pioneers of zero-emission shipping. On the company’s website they wrote that the sails would add 20 percent to the cost of building the ship.

The International Windship Association tweeted out a congratulatory message to Zéphyr & Borée. “This contract is backed by a number of French shippers signing long-term shipping commitments. We look forward to future announcements of further builds in the pipeline,” they wrote.

It is believed each of the vessels will have a capacity of 1,300 TEU. Delivery according to the shipyard begins in 2025 and will be completed before June 30, 2026. Alphaliner speculates that the order is to be followed by a second for similar-sized ships to form a class of 10 vessels. It is unclear if Zéphyr & Borée plans to run the ships or partner with one or more carriers to maintain their operations.

 

Canopee due to be fitted with the sails by summer 2023 will be a proof of concept demonstration aboard an in-service vessel (Ariane Group)

 

BV awarded an Approval in Principle (AiP) to Zéphyr & Borée at the end of 2021 for a design of an open-top 1,800 TEU containership. At the time it was reported to be a 607-foot-long with five cargo holds, mostly open-top. The vessel’s propulsion system they reported would be assisted by eight sails provided by CWS (Computed Wing Sails). The website describes the Meltem design as being 25,000 DWT. The design they say would offer price competitive shipping and carry loads equal to similar sized ships without sails.

The order comes as the company prepares for its first proof of concept demonstrations on a large, in-service vessel. The Canopée was delivered at the end of 2022 and is currently undergoing its trials and commissioning. The vessel was specifically designed for the French aerospace company Ariane Group to transport components for the Ariane 6 rockets. It is capable of carrying large, fragile loads and navigating the shallow waters to the launch site in French Guiana.

Measuring 397 feet with a beam of 72 feet, the vessel is also an open-top design. Ariane reports it is 10,000 dwt and will have a speed of 17 knots. It completed its first Atlantic proving voyage in January 2023 and is due to be fitted with the four articulated wingsails by the summer.
 

Canopee was delivered at the end of 2022 and is currently doing trial trips and commissioning (Ariane)