MS Beluga Skysails

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Name: Beluga Skysails
Owner: Beluga Group[1]
Builder: Volharding Shipyards, Harlingen, Netherlands
Launched: 17 December 2007
Acquired: 1 January 2008
Maiden voyage: BremerhavenVenezuela
Identification: IMO number: 9399129
General characteristics
Type: Cargo ship
Length: 132 m (433 ft)
Beam: 15.8 m (52 ft)
Draught: 7.73 m (25.4 ft)
Sail plan: one 160 m2 (1,700 sq ft) power kite
Speed: 15.5 knots (28.7 km/h)
Capacity: 474 TEU or 228 FEU + 18 TEU

MS Beluga SkySails is a German commercial container cargo ship. It is the world's first ship partially powered by a giant computer-controlled kite rig,[2] called the SkySails system. It comprises a kite similar to a huge paraglider of up to 160 square metres (1,700 sq ft) area.[3]

Kite power[edit]

The kite has an area of 160 square metres (1,700 sq ft) and reduces fuel consumption by 15–20% on average; it will be upgraded to 320 square metres (3,400 sq ft) in order to save about 30%.

Stephan Wrage, managing director of SkySails GmbH – which installed the kite – announced: "During the next few months we will finally be able to prove that our technology works in practice and significantly reduces fuel consumption and emissions." Verena Frank, project manager at Beluga Shipping GmbH, SkySails GmbH's partner further stated that "the project's core concept was using wind energy as auxiliary propulsion power and using wind as a free of charge energy".[2]

This kite is connected to the ship by a rope, and controlled by an automatic pod to maximize the wind benefits. The kite functions at an altitude between 100 metres (330 ft) and 500 metres (1,600 ft).[4]

By using this system it is possible to improve the speed of the ship and reduce fuel consumption. SkySails calculates that the use of its technology worldwide could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 146 million tons (about 0.6% of the entire global energy-related emissions of CO2). SkySails estimates the potential upgrade market for its system at more than 40,000 ships. Through 2013, the company is targeting less than 1% of that market – about 400 ships.


The ship, owned by the German firm Beluga Fleet Management GmbH,[5] a subsidiary of Beluga Shipping GmbH within the Beluga Group, was launched 17 December 2007 and left the northern German port of Bremerhaven to Guanta, Venezuela on January 22, 2008.[6] The ship is carrying cargo for DHL which has sponsored the initiative.[7]

United States Navy charter[edit]

On October 6, 2008 the United States Naval Military Sealift Command announced it had chartered the Beluga Skysails to transport Army and Air Force supplies from three European ports of call to the United States.[8]


  1. ^ "N-Series". beluga-group. 2008-01-22. Archived from the original on 2008-01-18. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  2. ^ a b "Kite to pull ship across Atlantic". BBC. 2008-01-22. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  3. ^ "Kite May Herald Winds of Change for Cargo Shipping". 2007-12-21. Retrieved 2008-01-22. [permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Beluga Shipping to Try "Wind Hybrid" Kite Propulsion Assist for Cargo Vessel". Green car congress. 2008-01-22. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  5. ^ Equasis information system free registration required
  6. ^ BBC reporter Steve Rosenberg on board the ship
  7. ^ Andrew Revkin (2008-01-23). "Look. It's a Freighter, a Sailboat. It's… Both". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-13. 
  8. ^ "U.S. Navy charters world's first kite-powered cargo ship". 2008-10-06. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 

External links[edit]