December 12 - Beluga SkySails, the world's first commercial newbuilding to use auxiliary wind energy for propulsion through the application of the new SkySails kite system, is due into Richards Bay later this month.

The ship's arrival coincides with the first anniversary of the company's subsidiary in South Africa, Beluga Projects. Jean-Pierre du Toit, the company's chief representative in South Africa says that the country plays an important role as importer and exporter of heavylift cargoes.


"The country is by far the biggest contributor to the gross domestic product of the whole continent and obviously the best place for opening an office. The first year has been very fruitful both in business terms and the establishment of new contacts," he says.


Niels Stolberg, President and CEO of Beluga Shipping GmbH, says: "Beluga SkySails is clear proof that this innovative hybrid propulsion system can reduce voyage costs and cut down emissions simultaneously." A reduction in bunker consumption of about 2.5 tons daily is a realistic medium-term goal of applying the SkySails system. The crew of Beluga SkySails benefits too: 20 percent of the savings are remitted to the seafarers onboard.


At present, different areas of the hull are used to test new coatings designed to prevent marine growth. In a concerted project with LimnoMar, the Laboratory for Aquatic Research and Comparative Pathology, seven newly developed anti-fouling coatings have been applied to the hull and, at the beginning of 2009, the vessel will undergo an interim biofouling inspection.


During the second phase, the best-performing antifouling coating will be applied to the entire underwater areas of the ship to examine the possible reduction in bunker consumption, which arises from the reduced frictional resistance.