Norwegian fertilizer producer Yara International and compatriot maritime technology firm Kongsberg have formed a partnership to build an autonomous and zero emissions containership.
The two companies say the vessel, which has been named Yara Birkeland, will be the world’s first fully electric and autonomous container ship, with zero emissions. The ship is scheduled to commence operations in the second half of 2018, shipping products from Yara’s Porsgrunn production plant to Brevik and Larvik in Norway.
The vessel will initially operate as a manned vessel, moving to remote operation in 2019, and expected to be capable of performing fully autonomous operations from 2020.
The two companies say the new vessel would be a game-changer for global maritime transport contributing to meet the UN sustainability goals.
“As a leading global fertilizer company with a mission to feed the world and protect the planet, investing in this zero emission vessel to transport our crop nutrition solutions fits our strategy well. We are proud to work with Kongsberg to realize the world’s first autonomous, all-electric vessel to enter commercial operation,” said Svein Tore Holsether, president and CEO of Yara.
Kongsberg is responsible for development and delivery of all key enabling technologies on Yara Birkeland including the sensors and integration required for remote and autonomous operations, in addition to the electric drive, battery and propulsion control systems.
“Developing systems for autonomous operations is a major opening and natural step for Kongsberg, considering our decades of expertise in the development and integration of advanced sensors, control and communication systems for all areas of ship operations. Yara Birkeland will set the benchmark for the application of innovative maritime technology for more efficient and environmentally friendly shipping,” said Geir Håøy, president and CEO of Kongsberg.