China Navigation has signed a memorandum of understanding with Fiji’s University of the South Pacific (USP) to conduct feasibility studies for a new generation of ships for the Pacific region committed to low carbon sea transport.
Under the MOU, the two parties have created Project Cerulean, which aims to eventually develop a new class of small cargo freighter to provide a cost-effective solution for currently marginalised communities in the Pacific Island Communities and Territories (PICT).
In the immediate term, the project aims to design, build and trial a low-carbon project ship to service the PICT in partnership with the Micronesian Centre for Sustainable Transport.
According to a release by China Navigation, lack of appropriate and viable transport is a major barrier to developing economies and social service delivery, especially for remote maritime provinces. Many routes are uneconomical using conventional shipping solutions and require increasingly high government subsidies to maintain.
“We want to raise economic capacity in the South Pacific as the vessel will be able to service the outlying communities in the region, which are not currently on main line routes. This really is our way of giving back to the community as we will be building the freighter specially for the South Pacific,” said Simon Bennett, general manager of sustainable development at China Navigation, adding that the company is looking into an initial investment of around $2.5m to design, build and operate a pilot low cost, low carbon, low tech freighter, which he hopes can be constructed in a South Pacific shipyard.
Both China Navigation and USP will operate and monitor the project’s performance for two years from launching and delivery into the project post sea trials to prove the commercial viability of the project ship.
Earlier this year, China Navigation also signed a MOU with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme to address critical waste management issues in the Pacific islands, which will see China Navigation vessels carry containers of recyclable waste free of charge from eligible Pacific island ports to be sustainably treated and recycled in suitable ports in Asia Pacific.