The China Navigation Company (CNCo), parent of Swire Shipping and Swire Bulk, and The University of the South Pacific (USP) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to conduct feasibility studies for the design costs and plan for low-carbon vessels to operate in the Pacific region.
The design and construction of the ships are part of a new project titled Project Cerulean, which aims to develop a new class of small cargo freighter that can be scaled up in numbers to provide a cost-effective solution for currently marginalised communities in the Pacific Island Communities and Territories (PICT).
In the immediate term, the project aims to design, build and trial a low-carbon Project Ship to service the PICT in partnership with the Micronesian Centre for Sustainable Transport (MCST).
Mr Simon Bennett, general manager, sustainable development at CNCo says CNCo is looking into an initial investment of around US $2.5 million to design, build and operate a pilot low cost, low carbon, low tech freighter, which Mr Bennett hopes can be constructed in a South Pacific shipyard.
He stated: “We want to raise economic capacity in the South Pacific as the vessel will be able to service the outlying communities in the region, which are not currently on main line routes. This really is our way of giving back to the community as we will be building the freighter specially for the South Pacific.”
Professor Derrick Armstrong, deputy vice-chancellor, research, innovation and international at USP said that working in collaboration with the private sector is critical way to go and the University is very pleased and proud to be able to part of this collaboration with Swire Shipping.
Both CNCo and USP will operate and monitor the project’s performance for two years from launching and delivery into the project post sea trials to prove the commercial viability of the Project Ship.
CNCo will be represented by Mr Bennett while the project manager from USP will be Dr Peter Nuttall, scientific and technical advisor.