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Water Today Title May 29, 2024
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Update 2022/7/24

WTWomen Danielle Doggett - Named one of the most influential women of the century

Building the World’s first fleet of 100% clean ocean-going container vessels

By Suzanne Forcese

“Our business model has nothing to do with fossil fuels. We really need to start from scratch, and we want the meanest sailing machine that we can make.” --Danielle Doggett, Founder Veer Corporation (2022, the Bahamas); SAILCARGO INC. (2014, Canada)

Named by the Royal Institute of Naval Architects as one of the most influential women of the past century, Danielle Doggett is the Founder and CEO of Veer Group and of SAIL CARGO INC, an award-winning Costa Rican company. Recently Danielle accepted a gold medal from the governments of Canada and Costa Rica on behalf of SAIL CARGO INC in recognition of achievements made, with special acknowledgment for clean hydrogen propulsion systems
Danielle is also co-founder of Astillero Verde, a successful non—profit shipyard association for coastal communities. As a result of her work across the Caribbean, she is an adviser to the Caribbean Sail Training Association.


Veer Corporation, registered in the Bahamas, has received Approval In Principle (AIP) from the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) for its project aimed at building the world’s first fleet of 100% clean, ocean-going container vessels.

The company plans to begin shipping with two vessels by the end of 2024.

WATERTODAY reached out to Danielle Doggett in our continuing conversation.

WT: You have said that you have dedicated your life to the sea. Outline the journey that took you from a young girl growing up in the Great Lakes of Canada to a young woman being named one of the most influential women of the century by the Royal Institute of Architects (RINA).

Doggett: Some people say that they have dedicated their lives to the sea. Often, what they mean is that they have dedicated their lives to the vessels which work upon their waters. I am somewhere in between...in a vessel, afloat, atop, and yet cognizant of the phenomenon, which is water, holding me up.

My earliest memories on the water are of canoes in the small lakes north of Lake Ontario. I can picture our border collie, Buck, jumping off the dock and splashing into the fresh, clear water.

Another early memory I have is planting trees with my mom –retrospectively, that is a memory of water too.

To be named by RINA with that title is an honour – but I would not know exactly what I did to earn that.

WT: What is your earliest memory of the force that propels you?

Doggett: I wanted to be the captain of a ship at age 17. Sailing on the ST. LAWRENCE II taught me so much about the world sailing could bring to me.

At age 21, I obtained a 200-ton off-shore, sail-endorsed license. A few years after that I used that ticket to launch the flagship of Barbados, the cargo schooner RUTH. My first moments as captain were holding the helm as the largest ship ever built in the history of the country rolled – then floated—into the Caribbean Sea. Once I pulled that off. I knew I could do anything that I set my mind to.

WT: Who/What have been your biggest influencers?

Doggett: I am inspired by so many people—each has left an impression.

I learned from Captain Daniel Moreland (PICTON CASTLE) and Captain Ben Hale (HIGHLANDER SEA, ex. PILOT). I learned so much from just looking at the watercolour paintings of ships by Alan Palmer while sitting at the bar in Mariehamn, Aland Island. He introduced me to Freya, daughter of Pamela and Sven Eriksson, Captain of Gustav Eriksson’s ill-fated vessel HERZOGIN CECILIE.

I think that seeing how one ship can affect multiple generations of people, hundreds of people—affected me, and gave me the sense that if I contribute to the life of a vessel, or create a new vessel, I may affect the lifetimes of people. Also, seeing how a ship meets the end of its life (the BOUNTY, the ASGARDII, the ASTRID) really affected me.

My grandmother (Oma), Anna Norman, who sent me sailing at age 13-- a defining moment for me--has been a constant life-long source of inspiration.

WT: Embracing the winds of change with a clear conscience is your mission.

 Doggett: My mission is to be a clean shipping leader, by taking tangible steps to bring clean shipping to reality. I want to move forward with existing technology and test technology with near-readiness. I want to show that clean sailing is absolutely attainable and desirable across many sectors.

WT: You recently founded Veer, a company in the Bahamas, that is the first and only company to create a technology-ready clean solution for the future of shipping. WT has learned that Veer has very recently been granted Approval in Principle by the American Bureau of Shipping. What does this first major step mean for you?

Doggett: Being granted Approval In Principle (AIP) by the recognized organization of the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) really sets Veer apart from the growing expanse of conceptual projects emerging. Having the AIP increases stakeholder confidence and brings a level of security to our design. It feels like we are getting one step closer to having tangible ships in the water.

WT: Tell us about the design of your Flagship. What are DynaRig masts? Will you also have power on board?

Doggett: The flagship of Veer will be a 100m, three-masted, container ship. She has been designed for speed and will be able to reach 18 knots under sail alone. This ship will be beautiful – but functionality is more important.

DynaRig is a sail configuration that reduces both the stress on the sails, as well as the amount of crew required. It is a very efficient design of square sail rigging, especially considering it was first designed in the 1960s by German engineer Wilhelm Prölß.

Our first vessel will use carbon fibre masts and have five square sails per mast. All will be operated by the push of a button. The auxiliary engine (of 750KW) will be powered by green hydrogen fuel cells (Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) type), along with a battery bank which will be used for peak-shaving (balancing energy consumption when there is high demand for energy).

Although the ship will have unlimited range under sail, she will also have a long-range if we were to exclusively use the auxiliary engine: 1,200 nautical miles.

WT: Veer is your second zero-emission shipping start-up. SAILCARGO INC., in Costa Rica, is your first, with your flagship CEIBA. You have recently accepted awards from the Government of Canada and Costa Rica for this endeavour. What are your routes?

Doggett: The construction of CEIBA is still ongoing in Costa Rica – so she does not currently have a cargo route – but we do have a planned cargo route. We have had a lot of interest from cargo clients who want to start shipping today which is why SAILCARGO INC, recently purchased the cargo schooner VEGA.

WT: Tell us more about VEGA

Doggett: She's a tall ship with a lot of history and character. I am pleased that she is now a part of the SAILCARGO INC fleet and will enable us to start shipping sooner. VEGA is a three-masted top-sail schooner that was originally built in Sweden in 1909 and sailed as a cargo vessel there for several decades. She fell into disrepair and sank in Stockholm Harbour – and was floated and about to be dismantled when the Bergstrom family saved her, spending 14 years doing a comprehensive refit and creating the modern version of the VEGA.

We have just replaced all of VEGA’s lower masts, the bowsprit, and the course yard. Now final preparations are underway for her Atlantic crossing.

Once she arrives in Columbia, she will commence shipping cargo between Santa Marta, Columbia and New Jersey, U.S.

One of our key cargo clients, Café William, has filled the cargo holds with their coffee on all north-bound voyages – meaning we can hit the ground running as soon as the crossing is complete. It is an exciting chapter, and it means we can fulfill our mission to prove the value of clean shipping.

Café William is a true leader in the field of sustainability, and of transparent commitment to providing “the cleanest cup of coffee in the world.” We look forward to sharing more about what is in the pipeline with this partnership.

WT: What are the main differences between the SAILCARGO INC fleet and the projected Veer fleet?

Doggett: The primary difference between SAILCARGO INC and the projected Veer fleet are the ethos around materials and the fundamental company culture. One of the largest separations is between the use of wood vs steel for hull construction.

The use of wood – which SAILCARGO INC maintains – allows for a circular economy approach, supporting regenerative sourcing of prime materials.

Veer hulls will be made primarily of green steel.

Manufacturing ships made primarily of steel is an environmentally tough point. Most steel comes from mines located in the Amazon, the sourcing of which contributes to deforestation and affects small communities, especially in the Amazon rainforest. This is something that Veer will highlight transparently and aim to affect positive change through awareness as well as contribute to the growth of green steel.

Green steel is produced by using green hydrogen for energy. We aim to support emerging green steel makers.

Another major difference is that SAILCARGO INC ships will not use shipping containers to move goods. Veer will. Shipping with standard containers may seem like a major benefit – which it is – but also comes with restrictions. For example, by shipping using “break bulk” methods, the SAILCARGO INC fleet can ship LCL (less than container load) which means that high-value, small-volume cargos can feasibly be shipped. This applies to such cargos as micro-lot estate coffees. The wooden ships can also easily carry cargo that is longer than 40 feet or would not fit in a container. This applies to such cargos as long lengths of valuable timbers, or bamboo.

Veer is less focused on the regenerative provisioning of materials. Veer allows clean shipping to enter the industrial commercial sector. For SAILCARGO INC, the attention to vulnerable, underserved coastal communities plays a vital role for the wood-ship company.

By creating a unique identity for the two companies I allowed each to remain true to their values. If SAILCARGO INC engaged in industrial practices that were not aligned solidly with the trust and values we have worked so hard to build, it would compromise the entire fabric of the brand.

WT: What is the expected longevity of both fleets?

Doggett: The wooden ships of SAILCARGO INC have a wooden life expectancy of 100 years, a figure that has been proven countless times with ships throughout history. With Veer, the use of higher quality steel would also allow a working lifespan of 100 years compared to the 25 years in the container ship industry.

WT: With Veer’s flagship is expected to make her maiden voyage in 2024, is funding an issue?

Doggett: We are actively seeking funding through investment for both companies – the offer looks a bit different depending on which company. Both investment opportunities support the clean shipping movement. We are happy to receive inquiries, I am happy to write back and answer people’s questions about what it means to become an impact investor.

WT: You are also cofounder of a Costa Rican non-profit Astillero Verde, which is Spanish for “green shipyard.”

Doggett: And it is just that! Our motto is “a shipyard for coastal communities” We are in Punta Morales, in the Gulf of Nicoya, on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Astillero Verde serves Punta Morales and the neighboring communities. These are some of the most financially vulnerable areas of the whole country. We also work with and receive support from more affluent communities at higher elevations along the Bellbird Biologic Corridor.

Astillero Verde offers educational courses and a strong focus on tree planting. We have planted over 4000 trees to date and provide four years of stewardship through paid labour by citizens of Central America. We prioritize providing this income opportunity to our neighbors from Punta Morales who have significant barriers to access.

WT: Every year you sponsor a young lady. Tell us more. Why is it important to you to introduce young women to the sea?

Doggett: Each year SAILCARGO INC sponsors one young lady to sail for a cruise onboard the STLAWWRENCE II

It's an amazing experience – one that changed my life!

WT: Do you have one last drop for our viewers?

Doggett: I have been labeled as a great innovator by some, and by others as someone who brings no innovation to the table. Frankly, I am fine with either title. An obsession with innovation can sometimes result in missing the point. It is not always about whether your idea is unique, it is about the fact that we need #SeaShipping Change. Now.


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