Berge Bulk Deploys “World’s Most Powerful” Sailing Cargo Ship

Singapore freight forwarders – Star Concord

Berge Bulk has completed the retrofitting of four massive rigid sails to one of its bulkers in an installation the company is terming “the world’s most powerful sailing cargo ship.” It is the second test that has recently begun on the rigid sail technology developed by BAR Technologies in the UK and for Berge Bulk is the next step in an ambitious plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2025.

Working with BAR Tech and Yara Marine Technologies, Berge Bulk announced plans in June 2022 to retrofit the sail technology to one of its vessels. The bulker is the Berge Olympus, a five-year-old Newcastlemax bulker. The vessel is 984 feet in length and 211,000 dwt and operates on charter for mining giant Vale. The four sails were retrofitted to the bulker at the China Merchants Shipyard during her recent five-year class survey and overhaul.

Each of the four sails stands about 123 feet off the deck, which is taller than a 10-story building, and has a width of nearly 66 feet. The total surface area for the four wing sails is reported at 3,000 square meters, more than three times the surface area of the wings of an A380 airplane. The technology was developed over five years and they are made of steel and a composite material. The wings can also be adjusted to optimize their performance and folded down when in port.


The sails fold down in port (Yara Marine Technologies)


The vessel departed on its first voyage with the sails from China and is heading for Brazil. According to the Berge Bulk, it is a trade route that has favorable wind conditions. Using the wings, Berge Bulk reports that it expects to save on average six tonnes of fuel per day, resulting in a 19.2 tonne per day reduction in CO2 emissions. 

To further increase the vessel’s fuel savings, Berge Bulk also retrofitted a shaft generator system. With a capacity of 1MW, the system was sized so that it could eliminate the need to operate auxiliary engines while at sea.

Berge Olympus is the second large bulker installation of the BAR Tech system. In August 2023, the Pryxis Ocean (1,000 dwt), a five-year-old bulker owned by Mitsubishi and operated for Cargill, became the first to be retrofitted with the wing technology. Installed at the COSCO Shipyard in China, the vessel was fitted with two of the wing sails. 

Berge Bulk reports the installation of the sails is the next step in an ambitious plan that calls for its fleet of 85 vessels, which equals 14 million dwt, to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025. The company reports since 2008 it has already achieved a 46 percent reduction in CO2 emissions. Their plan calls for improving the efficiency of their vessels, using new technologies and new fuels, and investing in carbon capture. Last year, Berge Bulk began testing biofuels while it is also looking to methanol and later ammonia to fuel its vessels. They also reported plans to test wind rotors on four of their vessels.

During the launch event in Singapore for the new wing sails, CEO James Marshall told Reuters their first focus has been on retrofitting the existing fleet. He however reported that they are in discussions for methanol-fueled bulkers.

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