ASKO Maritime names two fully electric, autonomous ‘sea drones’

MS Marit and MS Therese vessels
Naming ceremony; Image credit: ASKO Maritime

Norwegian company ASKO Maritime AS hosted a christening ceremony last week for two fully electric, autonomous vessels in the Port of Moss, Norway.

Naming ceremony; Image credit: ASKO Maritime

MS Marit and MS Therese are named after world-leading cross-country ski champions Marit Bjørgen and Therese Johaug, who acted as the vessels’ godmothers.

Kai Just Olsen, director of ASKO Maritime, said the christening ceremony marks the beginning of a long journey paving the way for new projects yet to come.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with such an innovative customer as ASKO/NorgesGruppen on making zero emission logistics a reality,” Massterly, a joint venture company created by Wilhelmsen and Kongsberg, said in a statement marking the occasion.

Massterly will be in charge of managing the vessels becoming the world’s first company set up to take technical management and operate autonomous vessels

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The electric ferries were built by India Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) Kochi. They were completed in India and loaded onto a heavy lift vessel Yacht Servant, for export to Norway at the end of June 2022.

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Each electric ferry is 67 meters long and weighs 600 tonnes. The vessels are powered by 1846 kWh capacity batteries and they have been designed by Naval Dynamics Norway using Kongsberg Maritime systems. They will have been built under DNV GL Classification and flagged in Norway.

The zero-emission vessels have the capacity to carry 16 trailers of cargo, each with a maximum capacity of 29 tons.

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ASKO Maritime said that ‘the sea drones’ can sail completely unmanned. The battery-powered ships are intended to contribute to lower transport costs, as they replace two million kilometers of road transport a year and contribute to the reduction of 5,000 tonnes of CO₂ emissions per year. 

The electric ferries will operate between Moss and Horten carrying groceries for NorgesGruppen’s chain.

Initially, the ships will sail with a limited crew of around four people, including captains. After an extensive trial period of two years, the plan is to let them sail completely autonomously, with remote control and monitoring provided from shore in Horten, ASKO said.

 Approval for fully unmanned operations is expected during 2024. Eventually, as the number of round trips increases the aim is to build the total number up to 150 daily trailer crossings by 2030.