Designed by Lade AS, the Oslo-based company says the hybrid merchant ship — which would still have an liquefied natural gas-powered engine — could achieve fuel savings of 60% and reduce emissions by 80%.

It’s the brainchild of Terje Lade, who used his skills as a speed sailor to develop his aerodynamic design. He says the futuristic container ship works more like an airplane than a conventional sailing ship.

He said: “In the era of Christopher Columbus, for example, he would have used what became known as trade winds but his ship was quite different from the VindSkip because he would have been sailing with the wind — he couldn’t sail into the wind.

“VindSkip can almost sail into the wind; in this way it’s more like an airplane.

“It uses apparent wind, or the sail wind, to generate pull in much the same way that an airplane will take off when it reaches a certain speed.”