SWZ|Maritime’s March issue: The comeback of sails in shipping

A couple of years ago practically nobody, except for some die-hard enthusiasts, would have believed that big cargo ships would use sails again for their propulsion. But with the necessity to ban climate-threatening fossil fuels from shipping, the use of sails, perhaps not as a main energy source, but at least as wind assisted ship propulsion (WASP), becomes more realistic by the day.

The Dutch Ventifoil sails of eConowind that can be very easily stowed away in containers on deck are an example of a very simple solution for the application of WASP on existing and newbuild shortsea ships. The models for much bigger cargo ships like the Swedish Oceanbird project of a car carrier of 32,000 displacement look wonderful. And in the UK, Windship Technologies recently presented its “Tesla of the seas”, a fairly realistic model of a mid-size cargo liner with sails and solar technology.

We are also anxiously awaiting more news on the plans our own Guus van de Bles of Conoship presented to the IMO in the autumn of 2019 for a zero-emission ship with WASP. And perhaps the beautiful model of Dykstra Naval Architects for a 11,850 deadweight cargo ship with sails already launched six years ago can now become reality.

Canopée and Flettner rotors

Of course, we must not forget that this year, the Dutch yard Neptune Marine in Hardinxveld-Giessendam will start building a 121-metre ship with WASP for a French shipowner that intends to transport Ariane rockets with this Canopée from Europe to French Guyana.

In Scandinavia and Germany in particular, shipowners re-discovered the almost 100 years old technology of the Flettner rotor that is now placed on several newbuild ro-ro ferries, tankers and other cargo ships. In short, using wind power for sailing is not just a hobby anymore, but serious business that can help make shipping more sustainable and with that can improve the image of shipping, very important in the ever fiercer battle against climate change.

So plenty of reasons for the editorial staff of SWZ|Maritime to take a closer look at these interesting developments. Our colleague Sander Klos, a skipper himself that regularly sails the replica of the Hanze-Kogge of Kampen on the North Sea and into the Baltic, took on the coordination of this WASP special. And in such a special one cannot do without a contribution of Mr. WASP himself, Gavin Allwright, Secretary-general of the International Windship Association.

This is editor-in-chief Antoon Oosting’s editorial accompanying the March 2021 issue. Unfortunately, our digital archive is currently unavailable. So, our magazine is only available to subscribers at the moment. Not yet a subscriber? Visit our subscription page.

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.