Ariane news

Ariane 6 cargo ship Canopée spreads its wings 09-21-2023 |  5 minutes


Far from space and its constellations, ArianeGroup is taking to the oceans. To transport the Ariane 6 stages and sub-assemblies between Europe and French Guiana, ArianeGroup is using a pioneering hybrid ship, setting the course for more responsible carriage by sea. 


A world first

Canopée is more than just a cargo ship. It is the world’s first hybrid industrial cargo ship powered by wind. This spacious vessel uses both wind and fuel to propel itself across the oceans. Canopée is the star of a great adventure that began six years ago. Around a hundred engineers and technicians have been busy during this time developing this 121m-long, 22m-wide ship, building and fine-tuning its two 3,840kW diesel engines, and, above all, giving the ship its “wings”: four huge sails, each of 363m2, which set it apart from other cargo ships and mark a major step for the industrial maritime transport sector. While efforts have been made to look at techniques to reduce emissions and decarbonize the sector, most are still in their early stages. But Canopée is operating today. By successfully rising to the challenge of hybrid propulsion, it is plotting the course for the future—that of more responsible cargo shipping to minimize the carbon footprint.


© Tom Van Oossanen

Collective intelligence

Operated by the French company Alizée, Canopée is the result of a real collective intelligence. The features of this special ship were developed by the design office, VPLP Design, and it was built in Poland, at the Neptune Shipyard. Only one “detail” was missing to make it the cargo ship with the world’s most advanced hybrid system powered by wind: wings adapted to its size. And this challenge was taken up by the French company Ayro, which developed the four Oceanwings® that Canopée has been proudly carrying since this summer. These 37m-high vertical wings are fully automated and can rotate 360° to follow the wind. Significantly more powerful than conventional sails, these wings allow Canopée to maximize the use of wind power and reduce its average annual fuel consumption by around 30%. Capable of carrying 5,000 tons at a speed of 16.5 knots, Canopée will be making a dozen voyages each year between the ports of Bremen, Rotterdam, Le Havre, Bordeaux, and Pariacabo (Europe’s spaceport center).


© Tom Van Oossanen

First launch

The first voyage began on December 27, 2022, when Canopée left the port of Rotterdam to ride the waves separating the Netherlands from French Guiana. But this trip was more than a transatlantic crossing. It performed a series of sea trials, tested the sea route the ship will regularly take in future, and confirmed the ability of the port infrastructure to accommodate the vessel. On its arrival at the port of Pariacabo on January 23, 2023, all the green lights were lit. Canopée was qualified at sea, and met all the objectives. The only thing that was missing was – the wings! The four Oceanwings® were fitted on Canopée this summer. After a series of trials, first at the quayside and then at sea, its wings were deemed seaworthy. Canopée is now ready to begin its voyages from the ports in Europe to Kourou, loaded with the precious Ariane 6 parts.