In recent years, several companies have presented plans to bring freight transportation back to the era of sailing transportation. In the latest advancement of these concepts, the French shipping company TOWT (TransOceanic Wind Transport) announced the signing of a shipbuilding contract for its new custom-designed sailing cargo ship. The ship will be built by the Piriou shipyard headquartered in France and should enter service in the summer of 2023.
The 260-foot-long sailing freighter will have a cargo capacity of 1,100 tonnes. TOWT expects the vessel to carry up to 20,000 tonnes of cargo per year while sailing to various destinations around the world. They plan to sail to New York, Shanghai, Abidjan, the Caribbean, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, depending on demand and business opportunities.
TOWT selected Piriou in July 2019 to build the concept ship with the aim of launching a fleet of four ships by 2026. Building on the initial design developed by Nantes naval architects Herskovits & Tobie, Piriou took charge of the technical specifications and planning of the vessel in February 2021. The vessel has evolved according to TOWT “to rationalize and industrialize its rigging and propulsion, while increasing its performance and commercial capacity, in freight and passengers”.
Designed for operations on an industrial scale decarbonized vessel, TOWT says each vessel will be moved by a set of sails with over 23,000 square feet of sail area offering speeds of around 10 knots. The Atlantic crossings between Le Havre, France and New York are expected to take around two weeks while the other routes will be longer. In addition to cargo, the ships will be able to carry up to 12 passengers and operate with a crew of seven.
Besides the climate impact, which will be virtually zero in carbon emissions using the primary propulsion sails supported by an engine, the ship will also be able to reduce the air, water and noise pollution caused. by sea transport. They estimate that the sailing freighter will reduce CO2 emissions by 20g of CO2 per tonne carried per kilometer, thus saving around 3,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.
“By building a modern and iconic sailing freighter, Piriou and TOWT are promoting an industry left behind for around a century with new techniques to meet the challenge of the climate emergency,” the companies said, announcing the construction contract.
Convinced of the opportunities to redeploy sails to drive the decarbonization of the maritime industry, TOWT began chartering existing sailboats in 2011 to develop the commercial market. Over the past decade, the company reports having transported nearly 2,000 tonnes of cargo on 19 different ships.
Some of the first users who TOWT say used their ships included French chocolatier Cémoi, specialty coffee supplier Belco, Martell Mumm Perrier-Jouët and EthicDrinks, an organic wine specialist. Currently, the company says more than 30 cargo owners plan to use its future vessels.