Autonomous container vessel Yara Birkeland delivered to owner

Shipyard Vard has confirmed that the zero-emission autonomous container vessel Yara Birkeland has now been delivered to owner Yara International, following a brief delay earlier this year due to pandemic restrictions.

The hull of the vessel was launched into the sea in Romania in February 2020 before being transferred to the Vard Brattvaag shipyard in Norway in May, to be fitted with various control and navigation systems and to undergo testing before delivery.

These processes were paused in April as Covid-19 pandemic restrictions and their impact on the global economy were assessed by the project partners, before resuming to allow delivery to be completed at the end of November.

After entering service, the vessel will gradually move from manned operation to fully autonomous operation, scheduled to take place by 2022.

“We were tasked with building a vessel prepared for autonomous operation which Yara will further develop until launch. The hull was built by Vard Braila and initially the plans for outfitting and delivery was for Vard Brevik, later transferred to Vard Brattvaag,” said Vard, in a statement.

“We have been through an exciting process with technological development and have gained a great amount of knowledge about such type of vessels, which we will continue drawing experiences from going forward. This is an example of how flexible we need to be in order to adapt to new technology and changes in the maritime industry.”

“We wish Yara the best of luck developing the vessel further and we look forward to seeing it coming into operation soon.”

Yara teamed up with maritime technology company Kongsberg in 2017, announcing its ambition to build the world’s first autonomous and zero-emission container vessel.

The project was initiated in an effort to improve logistics at Yara’s Porsgrunn fertilizer plant. Every day, more than 100 diesel truck journeys are needed to transport products from Porsgrunn to ports in Brevik and Larvik, where the company ships products to customers around the world. Replacing an estimated 40,000 truck journeys a year, Yara Birkeland will reduce NOx and CO2 emissions and improve road safety in a densely populated urban area in Norway.

Vard was chosen as the shipyard for construction of the vessel in 2018, in a NOK 250 million (approx. US$28 million) deal. The Norwegian government has supported the project to the tune of NOK 133.6 million (approx. US$15 million).

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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