Vessel owner Yara has signed a deal with Norwegian shipyard Vard worth appr NOK 250 million to build the world’s first autonomous electric container ship.

Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg was present for the signing at the ship yard in Brevik, Norway

Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg was present for the signing at the shipyard in Brevik, Norway


Vard will deliver Yara Birkeland for launch in early 2020, and the vessel will gradually move from manned operation to fully autonomous operation by 2022.

In May 2017, Yara and technology company Kongsberg announced a partnership to build the vessel. Replacing 40,000 truck journeys a year, Yara Birkeland will reduce NOx and CO2 emissions and improve road safety in a densely populated urban area. Now the shipyard has been selected and construction will begin.

Vard is a leading global shipbuilder of specialized vessels. Yara Birkeland is scheduled to be delivered from Vard Brevik in Norway in Q1 2020. The hull will be delivered from Vard Braila in Romania.

The project has received NOK 133.6 million in support from the Norwegian government enterprise ENOVA. Prime Minister Erna Solberg was present for the signing at the shipyard in Brevik, Norway.

“This is a good example of how Norwegian industry can collaborate to create new solutions and green jobs. Yara, Kongsberg and Vard have built on their knowledge about technology, logistics and shipbuilding with an ambition to create sustainable innovation together. The result is exciting pioneer projects like this one. I am proud that the Government has supported the development of Yara Birkelandthrough ENOVA and send my best wishes for the construction,” said Prime Minister Solberg.

Technology company Kongsberg is a key partner in the project, responsible for the enabling technologies including the sensors and integration required for remote and autonomous operations. The company is leading the way in an industry transformation which at first will impact short sea and inland waterway operations and holds potential for further segments.

The project was initiated in an effort to improve the logistics at Yara’s Porsgrunn fertilizer plant. Every day, more than 100 diesel truck journeys are needed to transport products from Yara’s Porsgrunn plant to ports in Brevik and Larvik where the company ships products to customers around the world. With this new autonomous battery-driven container vessel YARA moves transport from road to sea and thereby reduces noise and dust emissions, improves the safety of local roads, and reduces NOx and CO2 emissions.

Source: Maritime Journal