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1909 Sailing Ship Will Launch Sailcargo’s Operations This Year

sailing cargo ship
Vega is rebuilt for a 1909 sailing ship and will carry 82 tons of cargo (Sailcargo)

Published May 20, 2022 9:09 PM by The Maritime Executive

A start-up that is promoting the use of sailing ships to provide environmentally-friendly logistics purchased a 113-year-old sailing vessel announcing that they plan to launch operations in the fourth quarter of this year. The company is accelerating its planned launch a year earlier than anticipated as it also continues to build a new sailing ship that it anticipates launching in 2023.

Sailcargo purchased the cargo vessel S/V Vega Gamleby, built in 1909 that will be able to transport approximately 148 cubic meters (82 tons) of cargo. They plan to launch the operation transporting green coffee beans and other dry goods between Santa Marta, Colombia and New Jersey in the United States.  Café William, a coffee company based in Canada, has booked all northbound cargo voyages to ship their coffee beans.

“The clean shipping industry is growing faster than ever and we want to keep that momentum going while Ceiba is completed,” said Danielle Doggett, CEO and founder of Sailcargo referencing the 150-foot sailing ship the company is building in Costa Rica. “We specifically bought Vega because she is built to the highest possible standard and has a stellar international reputation. She’s a beautiful ship.” 

Vega is a three-masted, square top sail wooden cargo schooner originally built in Sweden in 1909. Vega successfully served as an industrial cargo ship for nearly 60 years. Currently registered at 140 gross tons, the sailing ship is 137 feet in length. She hoists 14 standard sails and six additional studding sails for a total of 7,000 square feet of sail area. She retired from shipping cargo in 1967 and fell into disrepair and sank in Stockholm harbor. According to the company, she was headed for the scrapyard when the Bergstöm family purchased her and begin an extensive reconstruction. In 1993 a fire at the shipyard destroyed the majority of the original vessel, changing the plans from a restoration into essentially a new build.

The new Vega retains about 15 percent of the original vessel, “preserving the rich history, inside a ship built to exacting modern standards,” said Sailcargo. Vega was reintroduced in 2008 operating as a sail training ship able to accommodate up to 48 people. Over the past decade, she won the sail training Tall Ships Races several times, but the family now wants to see the ship return to her original purpose as a cargo ship.

The plan calls for Vega to commence her delivery voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in mid-May, 2022. Once she arrives in the Caribbean, Vega will be refit to maximize the cargo holds before beginning her new life sailing products from Colombia to the United States. Vega’s Swedish crew and Sailcargo’s crew are currently working together to prepare her for the Atlantic crossing. During the delivery voyage, the Swedish crew will train her new Costa Rican sailors.Vega will be operated with a crew of up to 14 with the capacity for four passengers.

Sailcargo is also continuing with the construction of its new vessel Ceiba which is being built by combining traditional methods with sustainability. The design is for a three-masted sailing ship able to carry up to 250 tons of cargo or nine TEU. In addition to 6,300 square feet of sail area, the design incorporates electric batteries and uses the dual propellers as underwater turbines capable of regenerating energy when moving under sail. They are also exploring using photovoltaic technology aboard the new vessel.