Sofar Ocean is excited to announce that Star Bulk (NASDAQ: SBLK) and Eagle Bulk (NYSE: EGLE), two of the largest and best performing dry bulk carriers in the world, will use our Wayfinder platform to optimize voyages and reduce emissions across their fleets. Both shipowners chose to partner with Sofar after a comprehensive technical evaluation of multiple competitive products, identifying Wayfinder’s superior weather forecasts, highly accurate AdaptiveVPM™, and continuously optimized voyage guidance as key differentiators.
Carriers trust Wayfinder to accelerate decarbonization efforts amidst new regulations
Wayfinder customers and others across the maritime shipping industry are more eager than ever to operationalize strategies that drive decarbonization in the immediate term. This sense of urgency is in part driven by new regulations issued by the International Maritime Organization — namely, the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) — that aim to decrease the shipping industry’s emissions by as much as 70% by 2050.
Star Bulk and Eagle Bulk are long-standing proponents of voyage optimization as a strategy to reduce emissions today. This is characteristic of each carrier’s forward-thinking approach to operationalizing sustainability practices. Both companies are established leaders within the maritime shipping industry and have put emissions reductions at the core of their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) roadmaps.
“Star Bulk has been focusing on voyage optimization for several years to minimize our costs and reduce emissions, and we are always on the look-out for new products that use advanced technologies,” said George Mantalos, Energy Efficiency Director at Star Bulk.
Wayfinder will catalyze Star Bulk and Eagle Bulk’s efforts by continuously searching for the most efficient route for all of their vessels using the platform. An optimized route can decrease a vessel’s exposure to inclement weather, reduce its fuel consumption, and lower its emissions output. Wayfinder customers see an average of 3-5% fuel and time savings per voyage and annual fleetwide emissions reductions of tens of thousands of metric tonnes of CO2.
Access to real-time data and highly accurate forecasts are key differentiators as climate change makes ocean weather more extreme
Wayfinder’s optimization advantage starts with its enhanced weather forecasts. Whereas most platforms simply use government models — produced by organizations like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the European Centre For Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) — as the foundation for their forecasts, Sofar augments them by assimilating 200,000 real-time ocean observations captured by our global Spotter buoy network each day. These forecasts outperform government models by 40-50%.
Sofar’s superior forecasts were a key decision criteria for Star Bulk and Eagle Bulk. Both carriers recognized the value in providing Captains and Operators with voyage guidance built on real-time data collected along a vessel’s route. For Captains, ground truth observations translate to more trustworthy route guidance, and represent an opportunity to improve the safety of the crew and cargo. Safety is of particular concern given the increasing frequency and intensity of severe ocean weather caused by climate change. For shoreside teams, the real-time data improves their ability to predict the impact of individual routing decisions and to optimize the commercial outcomes of every voyage.
“What we like about Sofar’s services is that they use a large network of ocean weather sensors to improve the accuracy of weather forecasting,” said Mantalos. “We expect that this should allow us to further optimize our fleet’s routes and speeds.”
Wayfinder’s vessel performance models and optimization engine power superior daily voyage guidance
Sofar’s highly accurate weather forecasts enable Wayfinder to predict the conditions along a vessel’s route; to predict how a particular vessel will behave in those conditions, Wayfinder uses its vessel performance model: AdaptiveVPM™.
The predictive power of Wayfinder’s AdaptiveVPM™ was another technical motivation behind Star Bulk and Eagle Bulk’s decision to implement the platform. The hybrid physics and data-driven module, which is custom-tuned for every vessel using Wayfinder, predicts ship speed and fuel consumption across all sea states with a high degree of accuracy. On average, Wayfinder produces speed predictions within 0.5 knots and fuel consumption predictions within 2% of metric tons consumed.
These predictions, coupled with highly accurate weather forecasts, power Wayfinder’s optimization engine. Repeatedly over the course of a voyage, Wayfinder considers hundreds of millions of route options before sending daily waypoint and RPM guidance. These proactive and continuous recommendations take into account the latest weather forecasts, market factors, and safety constraints, further distinguishing Wayfinder from alternatives and ensuring that Star Bulk and Eagle Bulk’s vessels are always on the most efficient path to port.
“Eagle Bulk has a track record for leveraging data to make the best decisions,” said Jonathan Dowsett, Director of Fleet Performance at Eagle Bulk. “Sofar Ocean’s real-time sensor-derived ocean data allows our onboard and shoreside teams to dynamically optimize speed and routing decisions with safety, cost, and emissions benefits.”
Climate tech and maritime shipping build towards a sustainable future
Climate technology is helping many industries decarbonize and will play a key role in maritime shipping’s green transition. Sofar is actively working with Star Bulk, Eagle Bulk, and other Wayfinder customers to add expanded emissions tracking capabilities to the platform, including new CII optimization tools.
For Sofar Ocean co-founder and CEO Tim Janssen, Star Bulk and Eagle Bulk’s commitments validate Sofar’s science-based and data-driven approach to helping the shipping industry meet its sustainability goals.
“For this massive sector of the world economy to decarbonize, shipping companies will need access to reliable ocean information,” said Janssen. “This is our focus at Sofar Ocean. We collect ocean data at a planetary scale and use it to produce the most accurate weather forecasts to catalyze maritime solutions that preserve ocean health. Our partnerships with Star Bulk and Eagle Bulk further this mission and we look forward to empowering them, and the shipping industry at-large, to reduce emissions using our Wayfinder platform.”