Photo: Naval Dynamics

DB Schenker to operate zero-emission autonomous coastal container feeder in Norway

Germany-based logistics provider DB Schenker has revealed plans to operate a zero-emission coastal container feeder vessel between Ikornnes quay and the Port of Ålesund in Norway.

DB Schenker
Courtesy of Naval Dynamics AS

The fully electric vessel includes a “unique design”, making the vessel first of its kind in the world, according to the company.

Having just signed a prestudy agreement, DB Schenker and its cooperation partners – Norwegian furniture company Ekornes and compatriot marine engineering company Naval Dynamics, along with Norway’s technology group Kongsberg and its joint venture firm Massterly – have taken the first steps in an ambitious joint project to replace the traditional feeder vessels utilized along this stretch of the Norwegian coastline.

The new autonomous and electric, short-sea container feeder leverages Naval Dynamics’ NDS AutoBarge 250 concept that was developed in partnership with Kongsberg and Massterly.

The vessel will operate between Ekornes’ own port, Ikornnes, and the port of Ålesund, which serves the main ocean freight ports in Europe. The ship will be completing the 43 km (23 NM) journey within three hours, at a speed of 7.7 knots.

The vessel will be 50 meters long and will be able to carry 300 deadweight tons of cargo.

It is designed from the keel up for autonomous and zero-emission operation. It will run without a crew but will be monitored and controlled by staff at Massterly’s remote operation center (ROC).

The planned two-way data communication solution between the vessel and the ROC is destined to be another game-changer in the ocean freight sector.

“This unique project marks another important step toward greener supply chains, and it also fits in perfectly with our overall sustainability agenda in ocean freight,” Knut Eriksmoen, CEO Norway, DB Schenker, commented.

“With this landmark project, we will meet our sustainability targets by using the most innovative technology available. Utilizing the autonomous electric container feeder for direct pickups of our stressless products from our own dock in Ikornnes means that our total carbon footprint will be reduced significantly,” Roger Lunde, CEO, Ekornes AS, said.

“We’re beginning to see a general shift away from road transport of goods – with its considerable carbon footprint – toward clean, energy-efficient, short ocean freight transport,” Geir Håøy, CEO, Kongsberg ASA, noted.

“Kongsberg is currently involved in several fully electric and autonomous vessel operations, including Yara Birkeland and ASKO. We look forward to contributing our expertise and experience to this new partnership with DB Schenker and Ekornes.”

“We are very pleased to be working with Ekornes and DB Schenker to create a smart logistics solution for the Ekornes production site. The small, fully electric, and energy-efficient cargo vessel will be designed for uncrewed operations… We find it very interesting that … DB Schenker is recognizing the benefits offered by uncrewed, zero-emission shipping, and we hope this project will inspire a larger volume of similar vessels,” Tom Eystø, Managing Director, Massterly, said.

According to the project partners, the benefits of the new initiative will be numerous and include zero emissions, faster and more efficient transport, and reduced traffic on roads.

The parties’ common interest is to unveil this pioneering vessel in Norway and then take the next crucial steps forward by obtaining approval from the Norwegian Maritime Authority, and possibly governmental incentives for the sustainability and technology aspects.

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