Sweden’s new car carrier is the world’s largest wind-powered vessel

Epigraph:

The sun and the moon run their courses according to a fixed reckoning.
And the stemless plants and the trees humbly submit to His will.
And the heaven He has raised high and set up a measure,
That you may not transgress the measure.
So weigh all things in justice and fall not short of the measure. (Al Quran 55:6-10)

(CNN) — Oceanbird might look like a ship of the future, but it harks back to ancient maritime history — because it’s powered by the wind.

The transatlantic car carrier is being designed by Wallenius Marine, a Swedish shipbuilder, with support from the Swedish government and several research institutions.With capacity for 7,000 vehicles, the 650 foot-long vessel is a similar size to conventional car carriers, but it will look radically different.

The ship’s hull is topped by five telescopic “wing sails,” each 260 feet tall. Capable of rotating 360 degrees without touching each other, the sails can be retracted to 195 feet in order to clear bridges or withstand rough weather. 

The sails, which will be made of steel and composite materials, need to be this size to generate enough propulsive power for the 35,000-ton ship.

Although “the general principles of solid wing sails is not new,” designing the Oceanbird’s sails has been a challenge, says Mikael Razola, a naval architect and research project manager for Oceanbird at Wallenius Marine.

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