The short history

Time line - from drawing board to Oceanbird

The Oceanbird concept wasn’t invented over night. After a decade of analyzing different paths and strong partnerships, we are finally getting closer to the vision of truly sustainable shipping.

2010: ZERO Emission Project

The story of Oceanbird started over ten years ago with a road map at Wallenius Marine to eliminate emissions from shipping, called the ZERO emission project. The conclusion from the project was that emission free shipping can be only realized through a combination of:​

  • Reduced energy consumption​
  • Emission free energy sources (wind, sun, waves)​
  • Emission neutral energy carriers (bio fuels, synthetic fuel, batteries)​
zero emission project

2015: Early sketches

After the ZERO emission project have concluded that emissions free shipping was possible, nothing happened. A general understanding was that everyone loved to hear about green solutions but no one wanted to pay extra. The young Naval Architect Carl-Johan Söder got tired of waiting and have an important insight: “We are not radical enough!”

He started drawing sketches of an aerodynamically efficient hull, in harmony with stiff wing rigs. He got more colleagues at Wallenius onboard and suddenly it was early conceptual design development.

It soon became clear that in designing Oceanbird, we had to pay much more attention to the aerodynamics than we normally would do. Not only do the wings have more in common with airplane wings than traditional sails, they also interact with the hull in a very complex way.  Ideally, the different parts of the hull and wings are working closely together, boosting the vessel performance.


2018: Government support for development project

Since Wallenius designs vessels and not air planes, they initiated a partnership with experts from the public and private sectors and academia. Together with KTH Royal Institute of Technology and SSPA, Wallenius applied for grant at Swedish Transport Administration, which allocated SEK 32 million for a three-year development project starting 2019.

  • Wallenius Marine was the project coordinator and is contributing with design and logistics expertise.
  • KTH addressed the challenges within areas such as aerodynamics, sailing mechanics and performance analysis.
  • SSPA was contributing with expertise within the development and validation of new testing methods, aerodynamic and hydrodynamic simulation methods and risk simulation.

In September 2020, the collaboration presented the Oceanbird concept.

Read more in blog post: Why does the government invest in sailing vessels?

Mikael Razola

November 2019: Understanding the wind

A key to developing wind-powered vessels is to understand how the wind behaves. There is little systematic measurement data to validate models of wind behavior in the atmospheric ground boundary layer (0–250 metres above water) over the open ocean. To understand the characteristics of the wind in this region, Wallenius conducted a series of experiments together with KTH. They installed laser measuring equipment on an ocean-going ship´s deck during the autumn of 2019. This allowed them to measure both wind speed and wind direction from the ship deck up to 300 metres above deck, where the wings will operate.

Read more in blog post: New insights from high level wind measurements.

May 2020: Model testing in open water

Students in the course Naval Design at KTH specialized in making a seven meter model of Oceanbird sail with wind as energy force. Since May 2020, the students have done several model sail tests at boat clubs in the Stockholm area with and without wing sail rig.

Read more in blog post: The Oceanbird model sails using wind power.

November 2020: Hull durability and wave test

During 2020, SSPA performed several tests of an Oceanbird model in their towing tank. Earlier in the project, the team had done a number of computer simulations and needed to confirm the results of the experiments. They were interested in the hydrodynamic performance; focusing on the hull, rudder and propeller.

Once in the water, the model behaved very well. They saw a smooth wave pattern behind the model, which indicated that the resistance was low and the hull was efficient. A few months later, SSPA exposed the model to difficult waves to see if it would hold a steady course.

Read more in blog post: Steady course through the waves.

Orcelle Wind

February 2021: The first Oceanbird vessel is presented

In February 2021, Orcelle Wind was presented to the world. Ever since Wallenius Wilhelmsen announced that they intend to be the first to order a vessel of the Oceanbird concept, called Orcelle Wind, it have been busy days for the Naval Architects. In close dialogue with the potential first customer, they are now adjusting the design for their requirements. Meanwhile, work continues to develop the Oceanbird concept.

Read more in blog post: Meet Orcelle Wind – a RoRo vessel of the Oceanbird concept.

Joint venture

June 2021: Joining forces for realization phase

In June 2021, Alfa Laval and Wallenius announced that they will enter into a new 50/50 joint venture that will develop technology for wind-powered vessel propulsion. Alfa Laval and Wallenius are familiar partners in developing ground-breaking technology. The companies have collaborated before on PureBallast, which is one of today’s leading solutions for chemical-free ballast water treatment.

In November, we got all approvals in place and AlfaWall Oceanbird was formed. An important step as we enter the next phase of the project: realization phase.

Read more in blog post: Wallenius and Alfa Laval will join forces.


April 2022: New wing design

The new Oceanbird wing sail consists of a core and a flap, optimizing the aerodynamics forces. It is half the size (40 meters high, 14 meters wide) but shows the same performance as previous design, allowing a smaller footprint: both environmental and on deck.

Read more in blog post: Revealing the new wing design

Armada of windships

January 2023: Retrofit track is presented

Oceanbird have two tracks to a shipping revolution: Reducing a lot on a few and even more from a lot! In the live webcast from ABBA Arena in London, we explain what we mean by that.

Watch webcast

June 2023: Ocean Solutions Award

Oceanbird was awarded Ocean Solutions Awards when the shipping community gathered at the Nor-Shipping conference in Oslo.

August 2023: Wing 560 receives AiP

The first wing sail from Oceanbird, Wing 560, has received Approval in Principle (AiP) from the world’s leading classification society DNV.
“This is an important milestone for Oceanbird in our quest to cut emissions from shipping” says Niclas Dahl, Managing Director Oceanbird.

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