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French shipbuilder Chantiers de l’Atlantique has cut the first steel for OE Corinthian, the first wind-powered cruise ship in the Orient Express Silenseas fleet.

The steel-cutting ceremony took place in Saint-Nazaire on March 28, 2024.

“It is with great enthusiasm that we are starting this great adventure today alongside Orient Express. This ship, a technological marvel which will revolutionize the world of luxury cruising, will represent the quintessence of Chantiers de l’Atlantique’s know-how and will be a benchmark from an environmental point of view,” Arnaud Le Joncour, Commercial Director of Chantiers of the Atlantic and Program Director, commented.

OE Corinthian is the first in a series of luxury cruise ships ordered in early 2023 by French hotel group Accord for its subsidiary Orient Express.

It is believed to be the ‘first cruise ship’ equipped with the Solid Sail propulsion system. Developed by Chantiers de l’Atlantique, the system was first introduced in 2022. The sailboat will sail thanks to three rigid sails with a surface area of 1,500 m2 each. They will be hoised on a balestron rig, with three tilting masts reaching more than 100 meters high, able to ensure up to 100% of the propulsion in suitable weather conditions.

What is more, the ship will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and be hydrogen-ready.

Expected to be the ‘largest sailboat in the world’, the vessel will feature a length of 220 meters, a width of 25 meters, and a tonnage of 26,600 tons. Scheduled to set sail in 2026, it will fly the French flag.

The launching ceremony preceded the signing of a wind propulsion pact between the French government and maritime stakeholders.

By signing the pact, the French government confirmed its support for those involved in wind-assisted ship propulsion and is committed to reducing the environmental footprint of the maritime sector. The government said that the ultimate objective is to capture 30% of the global market share with French wind propulsion technology.

On the same day, the Pôle Sud Intégré (PSI), a new pre-fabrication workshop, was inaugurated. With a surface area of 11,000 m2, the PSI has twelve overhead cranes, ten semi-gantry cranes and two robotic welding lines distributed in four naves.

“Reconciling industry and ecology is possible and this is the successful challenge of OE Corinthian, from the Accor group, whose construction begins today in Saint-Nazaire, on the Chantiers de l’Atlantique site. This cruise ship has foldable sails allowing it to be as close as possible to zero emissions. Decarbonization is an opportunity to conquer new markets: Chantiers de l’Atlantique have understood this, and their new production workshop for pre-assembled modules that we are inaugurating today with Hervé Berville will allow them to accelerate to position itself in all emerging low-carbon maritime markets. See you on March 22, 2026 for the inauguration,” Roland Lescure, Minister Delegate for Industry and Energy, said.