Oceanbird, the first sailing cargo vessel in the world

Oceanbird will reduce polluting emissions by 90% She will be sailing the oceans in 2024

1 October 2020 | by Redazione

Powering the biggest transoceanic cargo ships with wind, reducing polluting emissions by 90% compared to a traditional ship. This is the ambitious objective of the research project wPCC (wind Powered Car Carrier), which is what led to the development of Oceanbird, an innovative sailing cargo ship, made in Sweden.

Imagine a cargo ship capable of holding up to 7,000 vehicles in the hold, 200 meters long and 40 wide, crossing the Atlantic Ocean, at an average speed of 10 knots, with no polluting emissions because it is propelled by wind. This is no fantasy, but an ambitious program born in Scandinavia, brought forward thanks to a partnership between the public, private and academic sectors.

The protagonists of the project are Wallenius Marine,  the KTH Royal Institute of Technology ,  SSPA and the Swedish Transport Ministry, who believed in the initiative and put up 27 million kronas for the 2019-2022 period. The objective? Improved sustainability, thanks to the use of clean energy created by wind power. A concept that is as ancient as it is innovative if we think about its use in transoceanic ships for cargo transport.


And so the research started leading to the creation of the Oceanbird, a cargo vessel with 5 sails 80 meters high, almost double the masts that we currently admire on some of the largest sailboats on our seas.

But Oceanbird’s sails are particular. They are more similar to airplane wings, thanks to technology and research that mixes together aerodynamics and shipbuilding. The rigging is made in steel and composite material and rotates 360 degrees to optimally catch the wind.

When the sails are unfurled, Oceanbird can reach the imposing height of about 105 meters above the water line, but thanks to their telescopic construction, they can also be lowered if needed reaching a height of 45 metres above the water lines.

In addition to its impressive sails, it will also be equipped with an auxiliary engine run on clean energy. A transatlantic crossing with Oceanbird will take about 12 days, almost double the amount of time for conventional ships, but will cut polluting emissions by approximately 90%.

In the meantime the work of the experts continues with tests and simulations on models, in lagoons and open water. Oceanbird’s definitive design is estimated to be ready for orders in 2021 be we will have to wait until the end of 2024 to see it in the ocean. Good news for our future.


Maria Cristina Sabatini

Photo source: Wallenius Marine

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