Project aims to develop low carbon ship for Pacific region

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Professor Derrick Armstrong, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and International, University of the South Pacific and Simon Bennett, General Manager, Sustainable Development at China Navigation

NOVEMBER 13, 2018 — The University of the South Pacific (USP) in Fiji and the China Navigation Company (CNCo), parent of Swire Shipping and Swire Bulk, have launched Project Cerulean, which aims to develop a new generation of low carbon ships for the Pacific region.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed yesterday, Project Cerulean aims to eventually develop a new class of small cargo freighter that, once proven to be commercially viable to operate, can be scaled up in numbers to provide a cost-effective solution for currently marginalized 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 Center for Sustainable Transport (MCST).

PICT communities are almost wholly reliant on sea transportation, however, especially at the domestic level, finding long-term, sustainable, cost-viable low energy solutions has always presented a particularly difficult issue/

Lack of appropriate and viable transport is a major barrier to developing economies and social service delivery, especially for remote maritime provinces. Many routes are uneconomic using conventional shipping solutions and require increasingly high government subsidies to maintain.

Mr Simon Bennett, General Manager, Sustainable Development at China Navigation said that the company is looking into an initial investment of around $2.5 million to design, build and operate a pilot low cost, low carbon, low tech freighter, that he hoped could be constructed in a South Pacific shipyard.

“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,” he said.

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