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Published: 25 November 2012      

Ecoliner "to be ready in 2013"

The sail-assisted 8000dwt cargo ship from Dykstra will be deployed by Fairtransport in Atantic trades

The vessel has been designed by Dutch naval architecture firm Dykstra (originally Ocean Sailing Development Holland BV), which has a strong background in mega-yacht design and building supervision of ocean-going sailing yachts. On the initiative of Fairtransport BV, the firm has developed a sailing cargo vessel of 8000 dwt for transatlantic trades, where the ship can profit from favourable wind conditions.

The aim of Ecoliner is to provide a competitive solution to existing ships. The high building cost of a sailing ship (rigging and slightly longer hull) should be amortised over the ship's technical life time of around 30 years through sharply reduced fuel costs.

Ecoliner is designed as a multipurpose vessel, but other designs such as tankers, bulk carriers or heavy lift vessels could also be an option. Service speed under full sail would be around 12 knots depending on the cargo load and the wind and weather conditions, but the vessel could reach a top speed of 18 knots. When cruising below 12 knots the vessel would need to be supported by an electric motor.

"Experience gained from the Rainbow Warrior III has shown that the concept is very fuel efficient," said Dykstra. "Thanks to motor and sailing, the Ecoliner could be operated competitively against ordinary 8000 dwt vessels. With future requirements for environment-friendly shipping, the ships is classed as a “green ship” under the clean shipping index."

Dykstra has experience of a number of rigging types. These can be operated and controlled by one person from the bridge, so no extra crew is needed, as tested in a wind tunnel. The rigging needs little maintenance as it is made of regular sail cloth (Dacron). The Wolfson Unit carried out the wind tunnel tests and additional mechanical engineering research has optimised the rigs' structural weight and dimensions.

The fact that the vessel will be a sailing vessel requires a different hull form to standard motor vessels. The hull shape is analysed for minimum drag with heel and side force. The water line length is longer than most vessels of this dwt size to increase sailing speed and optimize seaway motions. To calculate the ship performance a special VPP (velocity prediction program) was developed that can model a ship that is propelled by sail and propeller.

The vessel's main general specifications are:

  • length oa: 138m
  • length pp: 135.50m (preliminary)
  • beam mid: 18.20m
  • draft main deck: 4.50m draft max: 6.50m
  • deadweight at draft 6.50m : 8210 tons

Energy saving has become a key topic in the international shipping industry. The NSR Interreg "SAIL" project has 18 shipping partners from seven countries (Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Great Britain and France) as well as universities, research institutes, technology centres, the Dutch port of Harlingen and the Belgian port of Ostend. The current project ends in June 2015 and is covered by a budget of €4M, with 50% co-finance from EU funds.



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  • Dykstra
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