CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and FastShip Atlantic, Inc., of Alexandria, Va., have announced a long-term program to collaborate in research and development of a new high-speed freighter that holds the promise of revolutionizing ocean transportation of high-value cargo.
MIT has agreed to assist with marketing research and long-term technical research for the new high-speed ship technology on which FastShip Atlantic's proposed 1998 service is based.
"This is a major milestone in the development of FastShip," said Terry Johnson, president of FastShip Atlantic, Inc., the company that will build FastShips and operate them on the North Atlantic and Pacific trade routes. "No other institution can come close to matching MIT's combination of outstanding ocean engineering with a proven track record of commercializing new technologies."
Professor Chryssostomos Chryssostomidis, head of the Department of Ocean Engineering at MIT, said, "MIT is delighted to participate in the technology and economic research associated with this exciting project. The commercialization of the technology developed by MIT and FastShip could lead to a rebound in American competitiveness in ship building and an expanded role for the U.S. in global transportation of high-value cargoes."
Professor Yossi Sheffi, director of the Center for Transportation Studies at MIT, said "The Center for Transportation Studies is glad to join forces with the Department of Ocean Engineering and other faculty across MIT to help bring the FastShip concept to commercial success. This option will change logistics patterns worldwide, allowing U.S. goods to be delivered consistently and competitively in Europe and throughout the world. It will open new markets for ocean carriers and inland transportation modes."
The MIT and FastShip Atlantic agreement calls for:
- Close research and development collaboration.
- MIT to participate in the ongoing research.
- Application and refinement process to continuously improve the basic FastShip technology.
- MIT to assist in the transfer of its new innovations (predominantly through license agreements) so that the public can benefit from this potentially revolutionary method to move high- value cargo across the oceans.
- MIT to assist in the estimation of the market for manufactured goods and parts that can be carried by FastShip technology.
Mr. Johnson said the MIT collaboration comes at just the right time. "FastShip is already in the final design and engineering process with final drawings due a few months from now. MIT's participation will not only help us optimize the current hull form, but also allows us to develop the next generation of FastShips which will be even faster and more fuel efficient than the current design," he said.
"MIT's expertise in analyzing transportation market strategies for FastShip service will be invaluable," said Johnson. "There clearly is a market for shippers who want to move cargo faster and more reliably across the oceans. MIT will help us define and reach that market," he said.
MIT has extensive experience in ocean engineering, ship design, transportation economics, technology assessment and related fields. MIT's Technology Licensing Office specializes in bringing new technologies to commercial markets, and has helped create more than 60 companies over the last nine years with a combined worth of over $2 billion. Thirteen of these companies are now publicly traded. MIT is also a significant originator of new inventions, averaging over 150 patent filings per year.
FastShip's advanced hull design, advanced propulsion technology and innovative loading system will allow it to transport cargo across the North Atlantic, door-to-door, in 5 to 7 days, the company says. Conventional freighters take anywhere from 14 to 35 days to do the same job. Transportation Secretary Federico Pena has called the technology behind FastShip "vital to the nation's economic future."
Philadelphia will be the exclusive East Coast homeport for FastShip which will begin service to Zeebrugge, Belgium in 1998.