Image courtesy Michelin/Neoline

French Shipping Company Selects Shipyard for Sail-Powered Cargo Ship

Mike Schuler
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June 16, 2021

France-based Neoline is pushing ahead with plans for its sailing cargo ship by confirming its selection of a shipyard to construct the vessel.

Neoline announced this week it has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) for the construction of its first ship with Neopolia Mobility based in Loire, France, following a new international tender with about ten competing shipyards.

Neoline was established in 2015 with the intention of the becoming the world’s first shipowner specializing in modern roll-on/roll-off cargo ships that use sails for main propulsion. The company has plans for two ships that will operate between St-Nazaire, Halifax, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and Baltimore on the U.S. east coast.

The LOI with Neopolia Mobility covers the construction of the first vessel, a 136-meter-long sailing cargo ship capacity of 500 cars and 280 containers. Commissioning is planned for the first half of 2024 with construction beginning as early as this summer, subject to obtaining the needed financing.

Earlier this year, tire manufacturer Michelin agreed to ship a portion of its tires using Neoline’s vessels. Under the agreement, tires will be loaded in containers and shipped from Michelin’s facilities in Halifax, Nova Scotia to Saint-Nazaire, France as soon as the Neoline’s first ship enters service.

With 4,200 square meters of sail area and engine assist, Neoline believes the vessels can achieve a speed of at least 11 knots to keep a biweekly service schedule while also achieving verified bunker fuel savings.

Neoline previously signed an initial LOI with Neopolia for the construction of the vessels back in July 2019, but it seems the project never got off the ground.

“Neopolia Mobility’s offer emerged from our call for tenders as being the best able to reconcile our technical requirements, our budgetary and time constraints, as well as our desire to participate in the development of our region. We are therefore very pleased to have been able to resume our negotiations with Neopolia and to sign a new Letter of Intent to Order (LOI), on a basis that is in line with our needs and capabilities,” said Jean Zanuttini, President of Neoline.

“These next weeks will be focused on obtaining the agreement of banking financing, which remains a challenge within the framework of an innovative project. However, our banking partners are very mobilized and sensitive to the commitments made by the pioneer shippers who are accompanying us, such as the Renault Group, Manitou Group, Groupe Beneteau, Jas Hennessy & Co, the Michelin Group and Clarins. Other shippers are preparing to join them,” Zanuttini added.

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