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Vard to build electric autonomous containership for Yara

Aug 16, 2018 09:51 AM

Yara Birkeland, slated for launch in 2020, is expected to go fully autonomous by 2022

Courtesy Kongsberg

The following is text of a news release from Kongsberg:

(KONGSBERG, Norway) — The world’s first autonomous and electric container vessel is one step closer to launch, as Yara has signed a deal with Vard worth approximately $30 million U.S. to build the vessel. 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 world's first autonomous, electric container 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.

“A vessel like Yara Birkeland has never been built before, and we rely on teaming up with partners with an entrepreneurial mindset and cutting-edge expertise. Vard combines experience in customized shipbuilding with leading innovation, and will deliver a game-changing vessel which will help us lower our emissions, and contribute to feeding the world while protecting the planet,” said Svein Tore Holsether, president and CEO of Yara.

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

Kongsberg is a key partner in the project, responsible for the enabling technologies including the sensors and integration required for remote and autonomous operations.

“Yara Birkeland represents an important next step for the entire maritime industry, representing a major technological and sustainable advancement. The Norwegian maritime cluster has taken a leading position within technology, design, legislation, testing and all other aspects of the development," said Geir Haoy, CEO of Kongsberg.

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.

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