Two years after its launch, Marfret’s Multipurpose Vessel (MPV) service continues to earn plaudits from shippers for its ro-ro offer able to cater for tailored shipments between mainland France, French Guiana and the West Indies.
In March 2020, Marfret braved the unknown, manufacturing stoppages and global supply chains in disarray to offer French Guianese and West Indian shippers a direct ro-ro service departing Le Havre and Antwerp with a round-trip time of 42 days. Two years later, the Multipurpose Vessel service is up to cruising speed and is stable enough financially to ensure its continuity.
Just one year after its first rotations, Marfret innovated by fitting the Marfret Niolon with aluminium turbosails designed to reduce fuel consumption.
It was a major challenge, but one that had the support of clients keen to see greener merchant ships contribute to the decarboning of the overall logistics chain. “The crew were supportive regarding the new equipment that required additional supervision. Thanks to the sails, our speed has increased 10-15%,” says a proud Guillaume Vidil, Marfret’s managing director. And 10 to 15% means less time burning fuel during the crossing!
The line’s boldness and risk-taking to reduce its environmental footprint was rewarded with the French Shipowners’ Association’s Blue Charter Trophy in November 2022. “This trophy, awarded by a jury comprising fellow shipowners, vindicates our approach. The MPV service is both an operational success and an accomplishment in terms of commitment to energy transition,” emphasises Vidil.
Innovating to reduce our energy footprint
The award has inspired Marfret to forge ahead in its energy transition strategy. “We intend replacing a prototype sail with a new version and are currently looking at new hybrid solutions in collaboration with yachtsman Xavier Macaire,” reveals Guillaume Vidil. What better, indeed, than to bring in new ideas formulated by mariners who are also top yachtsmen? A sponsor of Xavier Macaire, Marfret is in the process of shipping back the yachtsman ’s Class40, with which he took part in the 12th edition of the Route du Rhum last November, from Guadeloupe to France. This shared passion for the sea and the desire to help reduce the energy footprint could well lead to new partnerships being created between the merchant fleet and elite yachtspersons. The Marfret Niolon carries all types of conventional cargo, from Xavier Macaire’s yacht to Gendarmerie launches (see photo), and plant and machinery, without transhipment.