Keel Laying Ceremony for the Pacific Island Supply Vessel

The development of an innovative sailing cargo vessel has provided a comprehensive insight into maritime transport in an atoll nation such as the Marshall Islands. The research carried out locally by national and international partners, and the in-depth decision making process on how to proceed with the design and construction, and which technologies to incorporate, has resulted in a design that contains the most economical and easy-to-use systems on board. For the Marshallese crew, this would make the vessel easier to handle and operate on a day-to-day basis, and gradually build their skills to become specialists in low-carbon propulsion technologies.

With the Marshallese people’s background as the most sophisticated sailors in ancient times, especially their navigational skills, this know-how will be brought into the modern age and can lead the way for many other countries in the region to make a paradigm shift from conventional propelled shipping to less polluting maritime transport.

Making it official

On Friday, May 26th 2023, the keel laying ceremony for hull number ASB – 1245 of the Pacific Island Supply Vessel has been held at the premises of the Asia Shipbuilding Co,. Ltd., close to the city of Geoje on Geoje Island, South Korea. The consortium of Asia Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., and the naval design company Kostec Co., Ltd., has signed contract with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in last year´s July to deliver an innovative sailing cargo ship for the needs of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

GIZ has been implementing the IKI (International Climate Initiative) financed program that is commissioned by the Federal German Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Production (BMUV) jointly with the Marshall Islands Ministry for Transportation, Communication, and Information Technologies (MoTCIT) since 2017.

Meeting RMI’s ambitious National Determined Contribution (NDC) target

The overarching aim of the project is until today to support RMI´s ambitious target to cut down carbon dioxide emission in the domestic sea transport sector according to its National Determined Contribution (NDC) target of achieving transport-wide reduction of total domestic transport GHG emissions 27% below 2010 levels by 2030 and transitioning to a low carbon transport future and is committed to reducing GHG emissions from domestic shipping 40% below 2010 levels by 2030 and full decarbonization of the sector by 2050. Earlier this year, the RMI Cabinet has endorsed the Domestic Maritime Transport Roadmap, that lays out the path for net-zero sea transportation in the Marshall Islands until 2050.

The keel laying ceremony has been hosted by Asia Shipbuilding on a sunny day on Geoje. Various representatives from the maritime sector of the Republic of Korea have been present, by name: Management of Kostec Co., Ltd., Asia Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., Korea Register, International Registries Incorporated (IRI), Korea Marine Equipment Research Institute (KOMERI), Representatives of the Geoje City Hall next to high level Government officials from the RMI Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Honorable Minister Kitlang Kabua and H.E. Ambassador Albon T. Ishoda jointly with Madame Ambassador.

A step towards emission-free shipping

The keeling would be the start of the paradigm shift from conventional driven, solely engine propelled ships to a new generation of vessels for our islands in the larger Pacific Region.

Honorable Minister Kitlang Kabua of the RMI Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Furthermore, she made clear: “We need to move away from fossil fuels, the vessel which´ keel is laid today in this festive ceremony symbolizes the larger change we are fighting for, a transition from technologies that are outdated and not adequate anymore in times where we face daily challenges with rising sea levels, the acidification of our oceans leading to coral bleaching, taking away our resources that we all need to survive.”

Project Director Mr. Held made clear that “the combination of various technologies for such size and type vessel is unique.” The 48 m Sailing Cargo Vessels has been jointly developed with the Research Institute University of Applied Sciences Emden-Leer. Together a new prototype-like vessel has been elaborated, including a modern and efficient sailing rig, PV units for the generation of electricity onboard and training areas for generations of future Marshallese Seaman.

The windmilling technology via recuperation during sailing operation has not yet been built in this context and will certainly raise lots of interest within future buyers when proven successful. The ship could basically be operated emission free during favorable conditions.

Mr. Chung, Project Manager of Kostec Co., Ltd.

After the keel laying ceremony, the shipyard and all relevant project partners will continue with the production of the vessel until the next milestone, the launching in early October 2023.

GIZ Pacific’s Low Carbon Sea Transport Project is based in the Republic of the Marshall Islands and funded through the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV).

Project Partners at the Keel Ceremony at Asia Shipbuilding © Raffael Held, AV, GIZ
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