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NEOLINE Sail Cargo Ship Reconfirms Shipyard with Plans to Sail in 2024

shipyard for construction of large sail cargo ship
Design for the first large commercial sail cargo ship (NEOLINER)

Published Jun 15, 2021 4:56 PM by The Maritime Executive

A French start-up that plans to launch a demonstration ship in its concept for large, sail-powered cargo ships, announced that it has re-confirmed its shipyard as it works to complete financing for the construction project. NEOLINE said that it now plans to start construction this summer of the NEOLINER aiming for commissioning in the first half of 2024.

NEOLINE originally announced the selection of the Loire-based Neopolia Mobility network to build its prototype vessel in July 2019, after an international tender launched in 2018. The company said that 15 shipyards had responded, and they entered into a Letter of Intent with Neopolia after considering the best solutions technically and economically for the project. “Their ability to listen to the shipowner’s needs has enabled them to bring appropriate technical proposals, as well as an organization able to respond to the constraints of an innovative project like NEOLINE.” The original plan called for the construction of the first ship to start at the end of 2019, with a launch scheduled for the end of 2021.

At the end of 2020, NEOLINE announced a new call for tenders, and ten shipyards responded. Again, NEOLINE reported that the Loire-based consortium presented the best proposal adjusted to the needs of the shipowner. 

“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,” said Jean Zanuttini, President of NEOLINE Development. “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)."

The project is now in the financial closure phase according to NEOLINE. The SOGESSTRAN group joined the project in June 2020 as the reference investor and in May 2021 the Region of Pays de la Loire granted NEOLINE a 1.3M€ ($1.5 million) loan. The company is now focused on obtaining an agreement for bank 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.”

The NEOLINER pilot project vessel is designed to demonstrate the profitability and attractiveness of the NEOLINE solution for shippers. The vessel will be equipped with duplex rigging and anti-drift fins, which the company says supports regular and efficient navigation under sail. These elements are retractable to allow access to a majority of ports.

The sail cargo ship will measure 446 feet in length with a capacity for 5,000 tons or approximately 280 TEU of cargo, or up to 500 cars, all of which would be loaded on two ro-ro ramps. The vessel is designed for an operating speed of 11 knots, which the company believes would permit it to maintain a commercial schedule.

The transatlantic route operated by NEOLINE will focus on a niche market. They plan to operate between Saint-Nazaire, France, and the East Coast of the United States, calling at St-Pierre and Miquelon in the St. Lawrence region before proceeding to Halifax and Baltimore.

Two pilot project ships are planned so that the company can offer sailings every two weeks. NEOLINE views this as the first step and as proof of concept before considering larger sizes and other shipping sectors.

Main Characteristics NEOLINER

Length:                              136 m
Width:                                24.2 m
Water draft:                       5.5 m (port) / 14 m (offshore)
Air draft:                            67 m / 41 m (tilted masts)
Displacement:                   11000 t
Deadweight capacity:        5000 t
Total sail surface:              4200 m²
Power (diesel-elec.):         4000 kW
Commercial speed:           11 kts
Max. engine speed:           14 kts
Crew members:                 14
Ramp capacities:               9,80m (height) by 12,60m (width)