ContainersEnvironmentGreater ChinaOperationsTech

China starts its first autonomous boxship service

China’s first autonomous containership has entered service this month. Following months of extensive trials, the 300 teu Zhi Fei, managed by Navigation Brilliance (Brinav) was put into operation by Shandong Port Group on a short-sea route between Dongjiakou and Qingdao in eastern Shandong province.

The 5,000 dwt ship, 117 m in length with a maximum speed of 12 knots, has been developed by Navigation Brilliance (Qingdao) Technology in collaboration with Dalian Maritime University and the China Waterborne Transport Research Institute and built by Qingdao Shipyard in compliance with China Classification Society (CCS) rules.

Ordered in 2019, and launched in April last year, the vessel operates on manual, remote control, and autonomous navigation. It is fitted with indigenous systems for independent route planning and collision avoidance, with communications between the vessel and shore stations via 5G, satellite, and other multi-network, multi-mode systems.

With a cruising range of 4,500 nautical miles, the ship is said to sport a full-rotation electric propulsion system based on hybrid technology and integrates large-capacity power battery packs and generator sets through DC networking to achieve intelligent energy efficiency optimisation under multiple operating conditions.

The Zhi Fei, or Flying Wisdom, will, in addition to being used for regular cargo sailings, serve as a technology demonstrator to evaluate the feasibility of incorporating autonomous sailing capability on a broader range of locally-built commercial vessels. If successful, Navigation Brilliance intends to order larger autonomous boxships in the range of 500 to 800 teu.

Adis Ajdin

Adis is an experienced news reporter with a background in finance, media and education. He has written across the spectrum of offshore energy and ocean industries for many years and is a member of International Federation of Journalists. Previously he had written for Navingo media group titles including Offshore Energy, Subsea World News and Marine Energy.
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