Project Cerulean

The University of the South Pacific (USP) and CNCo signed a ground-breaking Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to research new-generation, low-carbon ships for the Pacific region in November 2018. Under the MOU, feasibility studies for the design costs and plan for new generation ships for the Pacific region which is committed to low carbon sea transport would be conducted.


Professor Derrick Armstrong, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and International, and Simon Bennett, General Manager, Sustainable Development at CNCo after the MOU signing.

The project, named Project Cerulean (with a nod to the emerging attention being given to the blue-green economy) aims to develop a new class of small cargo freighter, which, once proven to be commercially and operationally viable, can be scaled up to provide a cost-effective solution for currently marginalised communities in the Pacific Island Communities and Territories (PICT).

In the near term, the project’s first aim is to design, build and pilot a low-carbon Project Ship to service the PICT in partnership with the Micronesian Centre for Sustainable Transport (MCST).

PICT are almost wholly reliant on sea transport for essential imports and other vital transfer of people and goods. Sea transport, especially at the domestic level, has always presented a particularly difficult issue for PICT to find long-term, sustainable, cost-viable solutions for periods of low energy costs. Further (for example) 30% of Fiji’s imports by value is fuel, so anything this project can do to reduce the reliance on imported fossil fuel is a win for PICT’s economies and a win for global climate in addition to supporting capacity building in remote communities.

Lack of appropriate and viable transport is a major barrier to developing economies and social service delivery, especially for remote areas. Many routes are uneconomic using conventional shipping solutions and require increasingly high government subsidies to maintain.

Both CNCo and USP will operate and monitor the project’s performance for two years from launch and delivery into the project, post sea trials to prove the commercial viability of the project ship.

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“We want to raise economic capacity in the South Pacific as the vessel will be able to service the outlying communities in the region, which are not currently on main line routes. This really is our way of giving back to the community as we will be building the freighter specially for the South Pacific.”

Simon Bennett
General Manager - Sustainable Development CNCo