Deadly pandemic forces autonomous ship into lockdown

The launch of the Yara Birkeland, among the most keenly anticipated new ships to hit the water this year, is to be delayed.

Norwegian fertiliser firm Yara International, which ordered the pioneering 120 teu, battery powered autonomous vessel, has announced it is pausing development of the ship, citing the changed global outlook brought about by the Covid-19 epidemic.

The hull (pictured) was recently completed at the Vard Braila Shipyard in Romania, and towed to Vard Brattvaag Shipyard in Norway for outfitting.

No new timeline for the landmark ship’s delivery has been given by Yara International.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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