Yara’s Autonomous Ship Model Put to the Test

A model of what promises to be the world’s first autonomous containership kickstarted today its testing stage at Sintef Ocean, a Norwegian research organization.

Norwegian maritime technology expert Kongsberg and its compatriot fertilizer producer Yara have teamed up with Marin Teknikk on designing and building a model of the ship- Yara Birkeland.

As disclosed, the model tested its mettle today in Sintef’s pool for the first time.

The ship has been announced by the two companies as the world’s first fully electric container feeder, which will produce zero emissions.

Once constructed, it will feature 80 meters in length, 15 meters in width and accommodate 120 standard 20-foot containers (TEU).

The containership will be able to carry a full load of five meters deep, but only three meters in ballast. Its normal speed, which is also a determining factor for the ship’s hull shape, will be six knots while total speed will be 13 knots.

Under the partnership, Kongsberg will be in charge of development and delivery of all key enabling technologies on Yara Birkeland including the sensors and integration required for remote and autonomous operations, in addition to the electric drive, battery and propulsion control systems.

Yara and Kongsberg are planning to start trial operation of the vessel from the second half of 2018 with a small crew on board. As informed, the crew will be placed in a container-based modular unit that can be removed.

The vessel will be engaged in shipping products from Yara’s Porsgrunn production plant to Brevik and Larvik in Norway. Yara Birkeland is scheduled to switch to remote operation in 2019. It is expected to be capable of performing fully autonomous operations from 2020, when it will sail completely autonomously between the ports of Porsgrunn, Brevik and Larvik.

As explained by Yara’s CEO Svein Tore Holsether earlier, the new autonomous battery-driven container vessel will help move transport from road to sea and thereby reduce noise and dust emissions, improve the safety of local roads, and reduce NOx and CO2 emissions.

World Maritime News Staff; Image Courtesy: Marin Teknikk