The History

The history of events that inspired an evolution in the global shipping

1970s – 1990s

Sailing around the world on a shoestring budget as a cruiser, adventurer (and when his family was able to join him, husband and father) brought Greenheart Project founder, Pat Utley, face to face with the needs of coastal communities. Over the course of his extensive travels and experiences in developed and developing countries, he was struck by the potential that empowering technologies, like the sails and solar panels that kept his own voyages going almost cost-free, could have on peoples and places otherwise isolated and impoverished. And a dream was born of a sail/solar hybrid vessel and the various functions that it could serve.

Late 1990s –

Early 2000s

With Tokyo as base coupled with a global outreach, Naval engineers, architects, academics, educators, and more were sought for consultation on the feasibility of the idea and initial design concepts.

Inspired by the concept, expert technical collaborators including Kunikata-sensei and Kinoshita-sensei came on board.


“The Greenheart Project” was registered as an NPO in Japan and volunteer participation and enthusiasm for the project began to grow.

An expanding group of committed global volunteers were assembled to refine the concept and the vision, identify potential target audience groups, determine the economics of a prototype vessel, etc.

2009 – 2010

A generous angel donation was made and provided the working capital necessary for the commission of the projects first architectural drawings. With this exciting new development was underway, Greenheart began to seek to more aggressively get the word out, actively attending global conferences, and becoming an increasingly visible presence at international events.

2011 – 2012

In March 2011, the Triple Disaster impacted life for everyone in Japan. All Greenheart activities were temporarily halted while crews went to Tohoku to volunteer in the cleanup efforts. A ray of light that emerged from the rubble during this crisis was that the project brought on board Gavin Allwright, who was forced to move home and family due to the accident, as Commercial Director and Greenheart’s first full-time employee.

As the year progressed, Greenheart’s credibility and influence continued to expand as did our presence as a key presenter at a growing number of global conferences.  It was during this time that the organization began meeting with city governments as potential future Greenheart ports of call.

With 2012 arrived an exciting time for organization, Greenheart engaged Western Marine Shipyards (WMS) in Chittagong, Bangladesh to build the first vessel.  In addition, Greenheart entered into collaboration with University of South Pacific, IUCN, and several other local stakeholders, to create a sustainable shipping initiative in the South Pacific and a regional “Talanoa” conference.

2013 – 2014

WWF, Iridium, Upsolar, and Deltadesh all partnered with Greenheart as either equipment suppliers or financial backers. Working with these and a number of other partners and volunteers, Greenheart began laying the groundwork for an International Windship Association for clean shipping projects. Germanischer Lloyd, the largest ship classification society and advisor to marine industry, in the world, volunteered to support Greenheart in the preparation of the construction of the first ship.

Kiribati, a small island developing state and likely climate casualty in the Pacific, agreed to become the flag state for the first vessel. Greenheart joined other stakeholders in serious proposals for pursuing sustainable transportation in the South Pacific. Networking also continued with Caribbean stakeholders in an effort to develop a low-carbon trading initiative centered on Haiti. Last but not least, with the aid of many partners, including WMS, GL, Avel-Vor Technologie, and Dykstra Naval Architects, designs have been virtually completed on the first vessel.

Visit Greenheart In Action for the most current project developments.