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Corse-Marseille: Corsica Linea’s new LNG boat to reduce pollution

This is still quite rare for ferries. The shipping company Corsica Linea opened its first vessel in Ajaccio on Thursday, partly powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), to avoid smoke emissions off the coast as it crosses between Marseille and Corsica.

“This is the first new vessel in Corsica in eleven years (…) and the first vessel to serve Corsica on LNG,” welcomed Pierre-Antoine Villanova, CEO of Corsica Linea, established in 2016 from the ruins of the Société Nationale. Corse Mediterranee (SNCM).

The ship, named the Galeotta, was inaugurated on Thursday. AFP/Pascal POCHAR-CASABIANCA? AFP or licensors

Named Galeotta (a reference to General Pascal Paoli’s flagship of the Corsican navy), this company’s ninth ship, with a capacity of 150 vehicles, 170 trailers and 930 passengers, will operate on the Marseille-Bastia line on weekdays and Marseille-Ajaccio on the weekend.

Powered by LNG for the “transition quarter”, originally

The ferry, which will make its first commercial crossing on Sunday evening, will run on LNG “first on part of the crossing, and then on its entire length,” the company’s general manager with the red boats said.

First, “A Galeotta” will be powered “a quarter of the way” on LNG off the coast of Corsica and Marseille, and the other three quarters on 0.1% light fuel oil, added the general manager, who claims to have invested “180 million euros since 2019 into an ecological transition.

Pierre-Antoine Villanova, CEO of Corsica Linea.  AFP//Pascal POCHAR-CASABIANCA.
Pierre-Antoine Villanova, CEO of Corsica Linea. AFP//Pascal POCHAR-CASABIANCA. AFP or licensors

In late 2021, Corsica Linea was criticized by several environmental associations for getting permission from the French state to use more polluting fuels through the use of smoke-cleaning devices called “scrubbers”. The latter can operate in open or closed circuits, polluting the seabed in the former case. Corsica Linea currently has five ships equipped with scrubbers, two of which are closed circuit.

At the end of December, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) approved the establishment of a “sulfur oxide and particulate matter emission control zone” in the Mediterranean from May 1, 2025. Five of the company’s vessels are already using these Seca standards to limit sulfur content in fuels “from 2020,” said Pierre-Antoine Villanova.

Sailing on LNG means reducing fine particles and sulfur by “99%”: “for the inhabitants of Ajaccio or Bastia, this is zero smoke emission,” he concluded. “Compared to a traditional crossing, 20% of greenhouse gas emissions and 85% less emissions of nitrogen oxides will be avoided,” said Amaury de Saint-Quentin, prefect of Corsica, welcoming this 100% private initiative.

La Corsica Linea, which has 1,500 French-flagged employees, shares a maritime public service (DSP) delegation with La Méridionale to connect five Corsican ports to Marseille. This company has implemented a particulate filter on one of its cargo ships. In France, shipowner CMA CGM has several LNG-powered container ships, and Italian cruise operator Costa Croisières was the first to offer an LNG-powered vessel in 2019.

Source: Le Parisien

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