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MV "Beluga SkySails" returns to Europe with positive findings

Maiden voyage of first new built carrier with towing kite propulsion successfully completed
The world’s first modern multipurpose heavy lift project carrier newbuilding, which uses wind energy as additional propulsion, has successfully completed her maiden voyage on Thursday, 13th of March 2008, when finishing a double transatlantic passage after an about 12,000 sea miles long journey. With 8,000 tonnes of general cargo loaded on board, MV “Beluga SkySails” safely reached her port of destination in Mo-I-Rana (Norway), having crossed several areas of adverse weather with winds of up to twelve Beaufort beforehand. In the first phase the vessel had shipped modules for a chipboard plant to Venezuela.

During the premiere of commercial operation that started in Bremen on 22nd of January and via Guanta (Venezuela) and Davant (USA) finally led close to the arctic circle, the 160 square meters large towing kite has been released as often as possible to fly for periods of between a few minutes and up to eight consecutive hours. “We can once again actually sail with cargo ships, thus opening a new chapter in the history of commercial shipping”, said Lutz Heldt, master of MV “Beluga SkySails”, drawing up the balance sheet of the nearly two month long maiden voyage. “Due to the innovative SkySails-system we use on our multipurpose heavy lift project carrier newbuilding we can cut down the voyage costs and simultaneously reduce the climate-damaging emissions”, Niels Stolberg, CEO of Beluga Shipping GmbH, specified the positive double effect.

A drop in bunker costs of approximately 2,000 US-Dollars per operating day becomes realistic, when the towing kite will be scaled up to 320 square meters in size subsequent to the pilot phase. The testing phase which in total is going to last for twelve months hitherto and ongoing as “training camp on the high seas” had and has in focus calibration work and technical adjustments to stabilize the towing kite propulsion. Thereafter the flight times will be extended and the performance perfected. Yet, on the maiden voyage already, the original expectations were validated and established by the kite now used, which as an auxiliary source of propulsion could pull the multipurpose heavy lift project carrier with five tons of power at force five winds already. Projected onto an entire day, this performance represents savings of about 2.5 tons of fuel a day.

The testing of the SkySails-system on board the ship newbuilding MV “Beluga SkySails” is being co-funded as part of the European Union’s “LIFE”-programme. The next voyage with loaded modules for wind energy plants will take MV “Beluga SkySails” from Spain to the United States of America. 


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