Beluga christens "kite ship"

skysails.jpgBeluga Shipping will early next year begin using a new multipurpose heavy-lift ship whose propulsion will be assisted by a giant parasail. The company said the ship, MV "Beluga SkySails", would be able to reduce fuel consumption 10 percent to 15 percent using a 160-square-meter sail. It expects to scale up the kite to 320 meters within the next year and be able to achieve fuel savings of 20 percent to 30 percent.

The MV Beluga "SkySails" was christened Saturday in Hamburg by Eva Luise Köhler, wife of the president of Germany. The ship is slated to make its first voyage from Bremen to Venezuela in January. The multipurpose heavy-lift ship has total deadweight tonnage of 9,775 dwt and features two 40-ton cranes for total lifting capacity of 80 tons. It has container carrying capacity of 474 TEUs.  Beluga is one of the largest operators of multipurpose heavy-lift ships in the world with 52 ships in operation. It also has a smaller fleet of 15 container feeder ships in operation or on order.  The savings will be "within a low four-digit U.S. dollar range per day of operation of the towing kite system," the company said.  "You have to have the courage to try out something new," said Niels Stolberg, chief executive officer of Beluga. The company said the SkySails system is the only sail system in the maritime shipping sector to date that can be used in commercial operation without any restrictions in vessel use.  Beluga said, "Of all known concepts for effective and sustainable alternative propulsion of merchant vessels, SkySails represents the only suitable model: no bothersome masts on deck, no restriction of stowage space, no hindrances to loading and discharging, no risk to the crew, cargo or ship as well as reliable overall performance."  The company also said it plans to equip two larger heavy-lift project carriers in its P1 series with SkySails. Those ships will have kites having a sail area of as much as 600 square meter and expect they may have fuel savings in range of 10 tons or $6,000 per day.