Owners China Merchants Energy Shipping and China Shipbuilding Trading Company have taken delivery of the first VLCC tanker built in China with four 40-metre rigid wing sails.

The 307,000-dwt tanker New Aden has been named after its launch at Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co (DSIC).

The wind propulsion sails are expected to cut average fuel consumption by nearly 10% on the Middle East to Far East route cutting an estimated 2,900 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year, said the China Classification Society (CCS) which classed the vessel.

CCS vice president Fan Qiang said the New Aden is “one of the most advanced VLCCs ever built in China” and “embraces the very latest design techniques as we work towards meeting the IMO greenhouse gas targets”.

Dalian Shipbuilding’s R&D team and Guangwei Composite Materials undertook the work to develop the ship and the new generation of rigid wing sails, he added.

The sails, which are made of a low-weight carbon fibre composite, have a combined surface of around 1,200 sq m and are controlled by an autonomous system.

The technology monitors power supply and self-inspects to ensure the hydraulic lifting and electric rotation is optimised to ensure peak performance, CCS said.

“Together with China Merchants and Dailian Shipbuilding we have looked at every aspect of design to deliver the best possible result in fuel reduction, sailing performance in wind and waves through optimised hull design as well as safety and environmental protection,” Fan added.

Rigid wing lift sails use airflow to generate propulsion using aerodynamic principles.

Beijing-headquartered CCS has a serviced fleet of more than 33,000 vessels exceeding 182.3m gross tonnes.