A Philadelphia-based ship design firm plans to build a high-speed cargo vessel
that can cut trans-Atlantic travel time in half.
FastShip Inc. is hoping to receive a contract to build four monohull ships.
The firm already has raised $2 billion, but still is seeking additional funds.
FastShip is a partner with Lockheed Martin in the Navy’s Littoral Combat
“The mission is to build a low-cost intercontinental … express
freight transportation network,” said David Giles, FastShip president.
“We regard logistics as part of the production line. That’s not
understood in the traditional shipping industry.”
These fast ships will have dedicated cargo terminals in Philadelphia and Cherbourg,
Speaking at a panel discussion on breakthroughs in defense technologies, Giles
said the company plans to use roll-on roll-off systems similar to those used
in military sealift vessels.
“We can unload a full ship in four to six hours instead of 28 to 48 hours,”
Giles said. “That allows for more trips across the Atlantic, four times
By avoiding cranes to lift containers, Giles said FastShip’s loading
and unloading system will be capable of handling 34 containers in five minutes.
Cargo will then be moved by rail and truck in Europe and by Snyder Transportation
in the United States.
Although high-speed sealift is still a few years away, Giles is proposing eventually
to have a fleet of four ships each sailing three times a week. Each ship will
be approximately 870 feet in length with 160,000 square feet of cargo space
spread over two decks.
“With patented ships, [we’ll] halve the time of an ocean voyage,”
he said. “The average is seven to 10 days, we do a four-day run.”
The sleek monohull design also has combat applications, when downsized to 300
feet, said Giles.
Unlike standard cargo ships, the FastShip monohulls will be able to handle
the rough North Atlantic winter seas, said Giles.
“[It] runs almost 20 knots faster than conventional container ships in
25-foot waves,” he said. “The ship can do 40 knots in North Atlantic
winter seas carrying 10,000 to 20,000 cargo containers.”
The ships will be built in Spain, said Giles.
It will take three years to build one vessel and Giles doesn’t expect
cargo service to begin until the third ship enters service.