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Wilhelmsen, Kongsberg establish world's first autonomous shipping company

Apr 4, 2018 10:16 AM

Courtesy Kongsberg

(KONGSBERG, Norway) — Wilhelmsen and Kongsberg are joining forces to take the next step in autonomous shipping by offering a complete value chain for autonomous ships, from design and development, to control systems, logistics services and vessel operations.

"As a world-leading maritime nation, Norway has taken a position at the forefront in developing autonomous ships. Through the creation of the new company named Massterly, we take the next step on this journey by establishing infrastructure and services to design and operate vessels, as well as advanced logistics solutions associated with maritime autonomous operations. Massterly will reduce costs at all levels and be applicable to all companies that have a transport need," said Thomas Wilhelmsen, Wilhelmsen group CEO.

Land-based control centers will be established to monitor and operate autonomous ships in Norway and internationally. With a combined 360 years of experience, Massterly will benefit from Kongsberg's technological expertise and solutions, and Wilhelmsen's world-leading experience in logistics and ship management operations. Norway’s position as a leading maritime nation also creates opportunities in the development of next-generation maritime personnel. 

“Autonomy and remote operations are an important development for the maritime industry and Norway’s lead has been made possible as a result of close cooperation between the Norwegian maritime cluster and the Norwegian authorities. In recent years there has been rapid development driven by a significant increase in demand from customers worldwide, from the traditional maritime industry and others. When autonomous ships soon are a reality, Massterly will be crucial for digitalizing the infrastructure and operations," said Geir Haoy, president and CEO of Kongsberg.

A key milestone in Norway’s maritime autonomy story arch was the announcement of Yara Birkeland in May 2017. It will be the world's first fully-electric container vessel and will be completely autonomous by 2020, sailing between Yara's Norwegian production facilities at Heroya and the ports of Brevik and Larvik. Massterly can deliver and operate autonomous vessels such as Yara Birkeland. 

"Currently, we are at the very beginning of this development, but we see and believe that there will be a significant market for these types of services in the near future. At first, short sea shipping will use autonomous ships. This also implies increased competitiveness to move transport from road to sea. The gains are increased efficiency and reduction of emissions. For Norway as a maritime nation, this will be an important contribution to reach the U.N. sustainable development goals," said Wilhelmsen.

The new joint venture company will be based at offices in Lysaker, Norway, and be fully operational from August 2018. 

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