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Swiss commodity trading company Mercuria has partnered with ÈTA Shipping to build up to 16 vessels, constructed by Taizhou Sanfu Ship Engineering Co.

The “state-of-the-art” vessels will feature electric-powered propellors fuelled by conventional or low-carbon fuels to align with the partnership’s aim of sustainable short-sea shipping.

The TA 6700 vessel’s modular construction allows for no primary engine, but the craft can still achieve 10.5 knots fully laden at under 900kW of power.

However, the power supply is delivered from on-board generators, which puts the firm’s promise of “sustainability” into question.

“Electricity is supplied by generators which can be fuelled by conventional or low carbon fuels. It is also possible to connect any sustainable power source, such as batteries or fuel-cell technology that can run for example on green Hydrogen, Methanol or Ammonia. Zero emission solutions can be added or replace the originally installed generators,” the company explained in a statement.

Mercuria co-founder Sam Gombra emphasised how the modular design of the ship allowed for easily adaptable power sources.

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Gombra said: “The modular design of the vessels allows for an easy replacement of a power source, which can be anything as long as it produces electricity.

“We estimate that it will take less than a day to remove the existing power generation system and replace it, fully or partially, without the need for a shipyard.

Mercuria stated the vessels constructed under the partnership will be the most efficient Ice 1A vessel in its peer group with automation playing a huge part.

With automation increasing its safety measures, the Swiss company stated that as a result the vessels may be safely managed with a reduced crew size of four, instead of six.

“The vessel’s 3D management tool that uses over 1,300 sensors, enables virtual navigation, equipment data access, and historical trend analysis for crew and technical staff,” explained Walter van Gruijthuijsen, co-founder of ÈTA Shipping.