"What's also important is that fuel costs have risen 400% since 2000 -- the operating costs are huge. In any case, every shipping company wants to reduce its emissions."
With these environmental concerns in mind, Van der Veen and his fellow Dutch captains Andreas Lackner and Jorne Langelaan set about building the Tres Hombres in 2007, using the hull of a former passenger ferry in the Aran Islands off the coast of Ireland.
Completed in 2009, this is Tres Hombre's fourth trade trip after previous voyages across western Europe, the Caribbean and even delivering relief aid to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
The trio are certainly not alone in their quest to find green alternatives to the gas-guzzling cargo vessels of the 21st century.
British wind power company B9 recently tested a model of its planned 100-meter, 3,000-ton carbon-neutral freighter.
The ship would use 60% wind power, relying on three computer-operated masts rising 55-meters -- as tall as a 14-storey building.
This would be supplemented by a bio-gas engine converting food waste into methane; the food waste being anything from restaurant slops to out-of-date sandwiches.
B9 co-director Diane Gilpin said the design would best suit smaller vessels, and they are now looking for between $30 million and $45 million in funding to get it off the ground.
"In the last 100 years we've been absolutely besotted with what oil can do for us," she said.
"Now we're running out of fuel and we have to be a little bit cleverer about how we deploy our ships."
She admits it will be a challenge changing the traditionally conservative shipping industry, but added: "If we're looking at a new, green, industrial revolution, those early movers will benefit from being there at the outset."
As Van der Veen said when the Tres Hombres crew first floated the idea of a engine-less cargo ship: "Everybody thought it was crazy but we've proved them wrong.
"It's so satisfying -- it's part of our goal to make a transport revolution."