Swire to Order Motor-Sailing Freighter for Pacific Islands Service

VPLP / Swire

Published Jun 1, 2021 10:20 PM by The Maritime Executive

Singapore-based China Navigation, the shipping arm of the Swire group, confirmed Tuesday that it will be entering the small sail freighter sector with an initial order for one vessel. 

In a statement, China Navigation said that it would be buying a motor-sailing freighter - a traditional design which would have been familiar in the early 20th century but is only found in niche use today. A handful of Western owner-operators still run sail freighters like the Kwai, Tres Hombres and Nordlys in coasting trades, but the business has not attracted well-capitalized shipping companies since the end of the Age of Sail. 

Under Project Cerulean, Swire will return big-name shipping to the sail freighter sector by building its "first low-carbon, low-cost sail-assisted inter-island cargo vessel" to serve communities in the Pacific that lack cargo handling infrastructure. The company intends to order the first vessel of the class by the end of June, with delivery in mid-2022. The project is a partnership with the University of the South Pacific's Micronesian Center for Sustainable Transport, and it has been under planning and study since 2018-19. 

"The Pacific Islands’ communities are relying on organizations such as ours to provide leadership and to take positive action now,” said Jeremy Sutton, general manager of subsidiary Swire Shipping.

Swire announced the investment in a statement of support for the Marshall Islands' industry-wide decarbonization proposal, which calls on IMO to institute a bunker levy of $100 per tonne and cut shipping's emissions to zero by 2050. The IMO MEPC is set to consider emissions from shipping at its 76th meeting, scheduled for June 10-17. 

Swire also committed to full decarbonization by 2050 or sooner, with the procurement of low- or zero-carbon vessels by 2030 at the latest. 

“The real and urgent change that is necessary now will be driven by the earliest adoption of a mandatory high-ambition levy on all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from international shipping. This is an immediate priority measure and must run alongside a revised, heightened level of ambition in the Revised IMO Strategy on the reduction of GHG emissions from ships," said Sutton.