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Yara and Kongsberg reveal test model of unmanned ship

Norway’s Yara and Kongsberg have revealed details of the small container they are building to operate around the southern Norwegian coastline

The vessel, to be called Yara Birkeland, will be built initially with a small bridge which the two companies plan to remove when the vessel becomes unmanned and eventually autonomous. The aim is to have a zero emission electric autonomous vessel.


In a statement Yara said the six-meter long model of  Yara Birkeland was launched in SINTEF Ocean’s 80 meter long sea laboratory in Trondheim, Norway this week.
“With this new autonomous battery-driven container vessel we move transport from road to sea and thereby reduce noise and dust emissions, improve the safety of local roads, and reduce emissions,” says President and CEO of Yara, Svein Tore Holsether. “It was a special moment in Trondheim when, together with our partners — Kongsberg, Marin Teknikk , SINTEF and ENOVA — we witness the design and demonstration of a miniature Yara Birkeland for the first time.”

The Norwegian government enterprise ENOVA has granted NKr 133.6m to Yara towards the construction of the world’s first electric and autonomous container ship. This will cover about one third of the estimated cost.

“The interest in autonomous transport is great, but at the same time, many are skeptical and question the safety. The key contribution from this project is to demonstrate that autonomous and electric sea transport is feasible, and will deliver the results we want, “says Nils Kristian Nakstad, CEO of ENOVA, which is responsible for promoting and supporting environmentally friendly production and energy consumption.

The plan is to launch Yara Birkeland in the first quarter of 2019.


About Author

Craig Eason Stockholm
Craig Eason is the owner and editorial director of Fathom.World. He has a background in the shipping industry having started his career as a cadet on oil tankers and gas carriers before becoming a navigating officer on a range of vessel types. A change in career, with ensuing university studies, and he has now gained 20 years experience in written and broadcast journalism. He now is in demand as a knowledgeable and competent editor and event host and moderator, both for in-house events and ones for the public.