France’s Louis Dreyfus Armateurs is to renew its ro-ro fleet for a renewed contract with charterer Airbus.

The new ships will be methanol dual-fuel and wind-assisted, the company said.

Louis Dreyfus Armateurs is listed with three small ro-ros built in 2004, 2008 and 2009, among its mixed bulker and offshore wind vessel fleet.

They transport aircraft parts between production facilities in Europe and the US.

Airbus has now selected Louis Dreyfus Armateurs to build, own and operate three low-emission ships for entry into service from 2026.

The new fleet is expected to reduce average annual transatlantic CO2 emissions from 68,000 to 33,000 tonnes by 2030.

This will contribute to Airbus’ commitment to reduce its overall industrial emissions by up to 63% by the end of the decade, compared to 2015 as baseline year, in line with the 1.5C pathway of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Louis Dreyfus Armateurs said the older ships would be “gradually renewed” on the run between Saint-Nazaire and Mobile, Alabama.

The new ro-ros will be powered by a combination of six Flettner rotors, which are large, rotating cylinders that generate lift thanks to the wind.

Dual-fuel engines will use diesel and green methanol.

Routing software will also optimise the vessels’ journey across the Atlantic, maximising wind propulsion and avoiding drag caused by adverse ocean conditions.

Chinese yard in the frame

A spokeswoman for Louis Dreyfus Armateurs told TradeWinds: “The vessels will be built in China. Final discussions with the yard are still ongoing and the signature should take place in the coming days.

“On the design side, we have been working for several months with Delta Marin.”

Airbus needs bigger ships to increase its A320 production rate to 75 aircrafts per month by 2026.

Each new transatlantic vessel will have the capacity to transport around 70 feu and six single-aisle aircraft sub-assembly sets: wings, fuselage, engine pylons, and horizontal and vertical tail planes.

This compares to three to four sets with the current cargo ships.

Edouard Louis-Dreyfus, president of Louis Dreyfus Armateurs, said: “We are very pleased to have been selected by Airbus to develop this state-of-the-art and low-emission fleet and to continue our long-standing partnership.

“This new project, setting high targets, reflects our ambition regarding the decarbonisation of the shipping industry. We are proud to support our customers in their energy transition, going even beyond their expectations by offering innovative solutions and sustainably driving change.”