France-based NEOLINE’s plan to construct a modern sailing cargo ship is becoming a reality with construction commencing on the first vessel at the RMK Marine shipyard in Turkey.
The 136-meter-long roll/on-roll/off vessel, to be named Neoliner, will feature two folding “Solidsail Rig System” carbon fiber masts and 3,000 square meters of sail area. The vessel is planned for delivery in 2025.
Neoline was established in 2015 with the intention of the becoming the world’s first shipowner specializing in modern Ro-Ro cargo ships that use wind power and sails as their main form of propulsion. The company has been planning to develop two ships to operate between Saint-Nazaire, France, and Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon in Newfoundland, Baltimore, Maryland, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. The company lists Renault Group, Beneteau Group, Manitou Group, Michelin, Jas Hennessy & Co, Clarins, Longchamp or Rémy Cointreau as being among its first customers.
NEOLINE Armateur was launched in 2021 to as the shipowning company that will operate the vessels.
Construction of the first vessel at RMK Marine comes after earlier efforts failed to materialize. NEOLINE previously signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) for the first ship with shipbuilder Neopolia Mobility based in Loire, France.
The Solidsail Rig System is designed and manufactured by Chantiers De l’Atlantique shipyard in France. The 2 carbon fiber masts will each be 76 meters high with 3,000 m2 of rigid sails—a smaller but more effective version of the 4,200 m2 sails originally planned.
Neoliner will feature a 6300 ton cargo carrying capacity, equivalent to 321 cars, 265 container of 20′ or 125 containers of 40′.
Construction of the first vessel comes after NEOLINE hit its financing goal of raising 60 million euros from public and private partners. French shipping giant CMA CGM was among the investors.
“The CMA CGM Group, which aims to achieve Net Zero Carbon by 2050, has been fully involved for many years in developing projects and prototypes to accelerate the decarbonization of the maritime sector. Given the importance of the challenges, we are convinced of the need to explore all options,” said Emilie Espanet, Head of the CMA CGM Fund for Energies. “Several technologies will have to coexist to build the decarbonized propulsion solutions of tomorrow.
“This is why the CMA CGM Group, thanks to its €1.5 billion Fund for Energies, wanted to become a partner of NEOLINE, whose RORO sailing transport project seems to us to be extremely promising.”
D-ICE Engineering will provide the advanced routing, navigation, piloting and monitoring systems for the wind propulsion system.
“Together, we have succeeded in carrying out a project which, in many respects, could initially seem utopian. But, in a context that daily reminds us that the fight against climate change is the challenge of this century, wind propulsion for commercial ships is becoming more and more of a pragmatic solution to an increasingly complex energy issue,” said Neoline Armateurs CEO Jean Zanuttini. “Wind is certainly intermittent, but it is more predictable than the prices and availability of many other energies. This is an unprecedented opportunity to do our part in the energy transition and to pick up the thread of history of maritime transport under sail.”
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