Union Maritime Adds Wind-Assisted Propulsion to New LR2 Tankers

wind sails on tanker
Wind-assisted propulsion added to new LR2 tankers for Union Maritime (BAR Technologies)

Published Mar 12, 2024 4:47 PM by The Maritime Executive


UK-based Union Maritime has ordered the installation of rigid wing sails for two of its new build LR2 tankers putting the company at the forefront of the development of wind-assisted technology in the larger tanker sector. So far, most of the applications of wind-assisted propulsion have come in the bulker and smaller ship segments but interest in the industry remains high to find near-term technologies that will contribute to decarbonization.

The new tankers, under construction at Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding (SWS) yard in China, will each feature three WindWings developed by BAR Technologies and are being billed as the “greenest and most efficient long-ranger tankers,” in the industry. BAR reports that the rigid sails have the potential to save up to 1.5 tonnes of fuel and around 5 tonnes of CO2 per wing per day on typical global routes.


The vessels are due for delivery in July and November 2025, according to Union Maritime as part of its shipbuilding program that has a total of six LR2 tankers on order as well as two MRs (49,000 dwt). The LR2 tankers will each be 114,000 dwt with the first two coming from China fitted each with three rigid sails. BAR explains that its WindWings operate in conjunction with a route optimization system that adjusts the rigid sails based on wind conditions, vessel speed, and course, all without compromising the vessel’s speed.

Shipping companies are looking to the available technologies and retrofit to ships to help in achieving the first stage of the required reduction in emissions. Most feel that the 30 percent target can be achieved with available technologies such as route optimization, retrofits on bows and propellers as well as adding stern ducts, and using paint and coatings to reduce hull friction. Adding wind-assisted propulsion adds another element that an increasing number of shipping companies are exploring.

BAR highlights that this order comes after its 2023 installations of the rigid sails on the bulkers Pyxis Ocean and Berge Olympus. The company has also entered into an agreement with manufacturing partners CM Energy Tech, a company associated with China Merchants Industry Holding. They will be margining the procurement and construction of WindWings and their installation throughout shipyards in Asia.