V.Ships welcomes the oldest ship still sailing under the French flag


The shipowner V.Ships has won a contract to operate the oldest ship still in operation under the French flag.

The three-masted sailing ship made its first cargo trip in 1896, carrying goods from the Caribbean, Brazil and French Guinea to Nantes in France.

The 58 meter long vessel has 22 sails, which means 1,200 square meters of sail area.

There are 16 sailors on board, along with 48 trainees, who manage all operations of the ship.

V.Ships describes Belem as an ambassador of French business, promoting trade and industry worldwide.

After many decades at sea, different owners and flags, the ship was bought in 1979 by the French bank Caisse d’Epargne.

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The lender then created the Belem Foundation in 1980.

Since then, the Foundation has preserved historic crafts and promoted the transmission of nautical know-how.

In 1981, Belem was classified as a historical monument by the French government.

Thierry Sarrazin, Managing Director of V.Ships France, said: “We are planning a great and exciting collaboration with the Belem Foundation for the exploitation of this very old lady. Each year, the Belem sails from April to November, benefiting thousands of trainees.

“This project is a combination of the maintenance of this historic sailboat, as well as the provision of a qualified and competent crew through our network”, he added.

Sarrazin said the project embodies what the maritime industry is all about – a fantastic link between current activities and the past of “our honorable ancestors”.

“It also suits the fact that the V.Ships France office is located in Nantes, creating that extra affinity and connection to the ship’s history,” he said.

The Belem can also be used as a “spectacular” venue for seminars and team building sessions for staff on land and at sea, Sarrazin added.


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