South Korea’s Hyundai Mipo shipyard has reportedly placed an order worth $311m for five innovative container ships with French start-up Zephyr & Borée. The ships, which will be capable of carrying 1,300 TEU, will use the Wingsail design and methanol-powered engines to create one of the first zero-emissions ships, and are expected to be completed by June 2026. The order may be followed by another for a similarly sized ship to form a class of 10, according to Alphaliner.
Although Zephyr & Borée has not officially confirmed the order, the International Windship Association has congratulated it and said the contract is supported by French shippers who have signed long-term transportation commitments. The company’s website indicates that the sails would add 20% to the cost of building the ship.
The order follows the granting of an approval in principle by BV to Zephyr & Borée at the end of 2021 for the design of a 1,800 TEU open container ship. The Meltem design has a service speed of 125 knots and the 607-foot vessel has five holds, mostly open-topped. Its propulsion system is supported by eight sails from Computed Wing Sails built with 25,000 DWT, according to the start-up’s website.
Zephyr & Borée’s first proof-of-concept demonstrations on a large, operational ship are expected to commence shortly on L’Canopée, which was built for the French aerospace group Ariane Group to transport components for the Ariane 6 rocket. Currently, in testing and commissioning phase, it is capable of carrying large, fragile loads and navigating through shallow waters to the launch site in French Guiana and completed its first test drive in the Atlantic in January 2023, with four articulated wing sails to be fitted by summer.
The overall aim of the company is to create price-competitive zero-emission shipping that carries loads for comparative vessels of similar size. It is as yet unclear whether Zephyr & Borée plans to operate the ships themselves or work with other shipping companies to keep them operational. The five ships ordered by Hyundai Mipo shipyard may reportedly be operated by a select group of shippers willing to pay a premium to pioneer zero-emissions shipping.