Costa Rica-based wooden sailing cargoship owner SailCargo that is building its first vessel has announced plans for a second ship — and up to six larger vessels that could be on the water in about three years.

The first ship Ceiba, capable of carrying the equivalent of nine containers, will be launched by the end of next year to become the largest emission-free cargo vessel able to cross an ocean, said chief executive Danielle Doggett.

SailCargo chief executive Danielle Doggett. Photo: Danielle Dockett

The 36-metre-long ship will carry primarily coffee, but Doggett said the company has interest from shippers that means it could fill the Ceiba many times over.

"We have been so successful with that, we are announcing the build of our second ship to the same design, called Pitaya," Doggett said at the Ship Zero Conference in Glasgow.

"But we don't have a solution at an industrial scale. As a company, we are not able to satisfy what our clients and investors want.

Doggett said SailCargo is working with Dutch naval architects Dykstra to design a larger and faster emission-free sailing vessel with an auxiliary hydrogen-fuelled engine that could cross the Atlantic at a speed of up to 20 knots.

"We have engaged with the architects to build six of these vessels," she said of the design for 100-metre-long ships capable of carrying 100 teu that are based on Dykstra's Black Pearl luxury yacht design but adapted to carry cargo.

Privately-backed SailCargo believes that if it can raise extra funding for the project, the ships could be operational within three years, Doggett said, adding that they are based on existing technologies.

Doggett said major shippers that have shown an interest in SailCargo include US clothing company Patagonia while Amazon and Ikea have signed up to zero emission statements for shipping.

"Patagonia was in discussion with us to ship on the [first] wooden vessel, but we are just not ready," she said.

"They are definitely interested, but we cannot build ships fast enough. I can fill them, and the clients will pay more, but for that vessel, the Ceiba, on the particular route we are looking at, it would not cost more."

The Zero Emissions Ship Technology Association (ZESTAs) conference is being held alongside the COP26 climate talks that have started this week.

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