Zulu Associates, the Belgian zero-emission vessel developer, along with its subsidiary, Anglo Belgian Shipping Company Ltd, unveiled the concept design of their groundbreaking 200 TEU zero-emission short-sea vessel (container vessel), named the ZULU MASS. This vessel features an auxiliary wind assistance system and represents a larger seagoing development based on the inland waterways 90 TEU X-Barge, which is currently in the final stages of construction design.
Zulu Associates CEO, Antoon Van Coillie, mentioned that the latest design of the Zulu Mass is crafted by Dutch naval architects from Conoship International.
“We’re thrilled to collaborate with Conoship International, who shares our passion for innovation,” he expressed. “Working with Conoship, we are pushing the boundaries to construct the most advanced and innovative vessel possible. As a result, in addition to being fully electric and autonomous, we’re incorporating wind blades and exploring wave foil propulsion. This marks an exhilarating period for short-sea shipbuilding, where traditional concepts are being challenged, driving transformative change, and unlocking new possibilities for zero-emission navigation.”
Mr. Van Coillie confirmed that the designers are aiming for the vessel to operate using modular energy containers, incorporating batteries and/or hydrogen-based power systems as the primary energy sources. Ongoing discussions with energy providers on a usage basis are running concurrently with the design process, given the integral role this plays in the vessel’s operation.
“Autonomy is still in its infancy, but we want to showcase what is possible and support the regulatory process in keeping pace with innovation,” he emphasized. “As a result, the Zulu MASS is designed from the outset to be unmanned, forming a part of a Maritime Autonomy System that enables it to compete effectively with fossil-fueled or hybrid vessels.”
Mr. Van Coillie stated that Zulu Associates are wholeheartedly supporting the desires of the Belgian government and other governments to see marine innovation put into action.
“Belgium is at the forefront of marine innovation, having established a legal framework for pilot projects involving unmanned vessels in the North Sea since July 2021,” he noted. “This confidence has motivated us to wholeheartedly embrace and invest in the Zulu MASS, particularly when some in the industry were more cautious. Presently, Belgium, the UK, Denmark, and the Netherlands have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the aim of harmonizing procedures to obtain certification for unmanned ships to sail between the four countries. This collaboration is expected to streamline the process, replacing the need to apply for multiple permits. Our goal is to seize this opportunity and launch the Zulu Mass into the water, making it a world-first and an industry trailblazer by 2025.”
Source Zulu Associates