Hoist the sails!

Published on 05 July 2023

SPIE Industrie has been chosen by Chantiers de l’Atlantique to participate in the design of a mast for future passenger ships. SPIE’s know-how in the fields of electrical integration and automation contributed to this prototype, which is 75 metres high, can be tilted 70 degrees and has 360-degree rotation. An invention of the future.

Solid Sail Solid Sail 3
Projet initial de navire à propulsion vélique

According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), CO2 emissions from ship-ping could increase by 90%-130% by 2050 due to industry growth. Stakeholders are thus mobilising to achieve the objectives of the green pact and to aim for carbon neutrality by 2050.
Chantiers de l’Atlantique, a world leader in the market of highly complex ships and offshore installations, is accelerating its research and development programmes to offer products that are more environmentally friendly. From this intention the Silenseas project was born: a 200-metre-long sailing ship that uses innovative and sustainable technologies. The customer turned to SPIE to bring the mast of this future wind-powered liner to life.

-19,3% Energy consumption

SPIE had never before developed such automation. “Designing this prototype rigging on scale 1 represented several challenges,” says Mickaël Boulic. “We had to integrate the management of different scenarios to adapt the configuration and adjustment of the rigging based on the weather data and the shape of the ship. The impacts of the wind on the mast structure were also elements that had to be taken into account.”
The Group’s teams took a few months to define the characteristics of a part essential to the new generation mast: a rotating joint. This seal guarantees the transmission of electrical supplies and communication signals that allow the operation of the sails and the tilt of the mast.

Solid Sail 4

“We offered an innovative solution to Chantiers de l’Atlantique. The rotating joint ensures the powering and automation necessary to manoeuvre more than 1,000m2 of rigid sails,” Xavier de Noblens points out. “This innovative approach has enabled us to win in a market as emblematic as it is promising. SPIE’s local offices in Nantes and Saint-Nazaire contributed significantly to the success of the project. “Our proximity to the Building Studies Office of Chantiers de l’Atlantique has been decisive in creating a bond of trust and ensuring smooth and rigorous follow-up,” says Xavier de Noblens. 

The teams were constantly mobilised, from weekly meetings and assisting during tests to assembling the prototype and disassembling the first mast. “When developing the functional analysis, we had to be able to push these prerequisites to the end, and to ensure an operational and reliable transcription from both an automation and electrical point of view,” emphasises Mickaël Boulic.

The project drives the Group’s development in the marine renewable energy (MRE) market and positions SPIE as a key player in the sector. “This project is symbolic of our ability to innovate, test and integrate into a market that is promising strong growth. It illustrates and validates our roadmap,” Xavier de Noblens finishes.  


In response to the growing demand for decarbonised energy, SPIE Industrie created the Naval Services & Marine Energies entity in 2020. The company wishes to give greater visibility to its expertise and its offers to strengthen and support its position in the marine renewable energy (MRE) sector. The entity brings together a hundred employees who are experts in automation, mechanics and electricity. Spread over several sites in the west and the Mediterranean, these teams work in the fields of shipbuilding and repair, as well as for renewable energy actors at sea.