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MIT to aid research on shipping

MIT and FastShip Atlantic, Inc., of Alexandria, VA, have announced a long-term program to collaborate on 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 ship technology on which FastShip Atlantic's proposed 1998 service is based.

FastShip's advanced hull design, propulsion technology and innovative loading system will allow it to transport cargo across the North Atlantic, door-to-door, in five to seven days, the company says. Conventional freighters take anywhere from 14 to 35 days to do the same job.

The collaboration with MIT "is a major milestone in the development of FastShip," said Terry Johnson, president of 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 and director of the Sea Grant Program, 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 US in global transportation of high-value cargoes."

Professor Yossi Sheffi, director of the Center for Transportation Studies, 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 US 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 will participate in the ongoing research, application and refinement process to continuously improve the basic FastShip technology; assist in the transfer of its innovations (predominantly through license agreements) so that the public can benefit from this potentially revolutionary method to move high-value cargo across the oceans, and assist in the estimation of the market for manufactured goods and parts that can be carried by FastShip technology.

Philadelphia will be the exclusive East Coast home port for FastShip. The company expects to begin service to Zeebrugge, Belgium, in 1998.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 25, 1995.

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